Nitsana darshan-Leitner discusses the challenges Israel will face in the coming weeks, courtesy of the United Nations while sitting in the Tel Aviv offices of Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center.
Her serene, calm attitude is in stark contrast to the fierce opposition Israel is facing from both the UN Human Rights Council, and the three-member Commission of Inquiry [COI] which was commissioned by the UN “investigate” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, East Jerusalem and Israel all alleged violations of international humanitarian law, as well any allegations of violations or abuses of international human rights laws prior to and including April 13, 2021.
Although Israel has faced an aggressive UN investigation in the recent past however, the major differentiator is that the present UN investigation was created as a continuous investigation to investigate Israel’s IDF. The duration of the commission was not set.
Darshan-Leitner, who founded Shurat HaDin, explained that “the UN Human Rights Council investigation isn’t coming out of the air”. It is linked to the developments at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The Rome Statute, which established the ICC in 1998, was the first step in creating it. The court is empowered by the Rome Statute to prosecute those who are convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity or crimes against humanity, in addition to the crime of aggression. Israel initially supported the establishment of an international court. However there was concern that this court might be employed against Israel. Israel as well as the US and a host of other nations have not ratified or signed this statute and are therefore not legally bound by it.
Fatou Bensouda (the ICC prosecutor at The Hague) announced in March 2021 that she will open a war crimes investigation against Israel and Hamas.
A decision by the International Court against Israel may have a significant impact. The majority of European and Scandinavian members of the court are legally bound by its rulings. If the ICC was to decide that IDF soldiers committed war crimes, any Israeli who was a part of IDF military operations and who happen to be in countries which have been deemed members of the court, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand – could be subject to arrest. The threat of harsh economic sanctions could be leveled against the Jewish state and the banking industry.
Israel could also be subject to other risk, like sanctions and weapon embargoes. El Al and other Israeli transporters might not be allowed to operate in certain countries, for instance.
Bensouda’s tenure as prosecutor ended in June 2021. He was replaced by Karim Khan who is an experienced British barrister. The new prosecutor was able to inherit 14 investigations that were initiated by Bensouda, of which eight were ongoing investigations. Darshan Leitner stated that he classified the cases on his docket “in the process of planning” to the shock and dismay of the Palestinians. It’s a polite way to claim that the accusations were not meritorious or urgent enough for the court to take into consideration.
Darshan Leitner states that this “frustrated the Palestinian Authority”. “They could not understand why the arduous efforts they made to get an attorney to start an inquiry failed.”
In September 2021, PA called for the establishment of a commission in the International Court of Justice to persuade Karim Khan to reconsider his position.
Darshan Leitner stated that the war crimes committed by Israel are being carried on by the PA since the time of Darshan Leitner’s statement. Amnesty International’s February report inflicted blame on Israel for apartheid behavior both within and beyond its Green Line. The report claimed that Israel “has established and maintained an institution of oppression” against Palestinians and also accused Israel of imposing racial segregation of Palestinians since 1948.
Darshan-Leitner explains that Palestinian complaints against Israel before the International Criminal Court have focused on two specific areas: IDF military operations and the issue of Israeli settlements, which they say constitute war crimes.
The Palestinians are urging Karim Khan, the head of the ICC prosecution, to focus on the investigation into Israel under the “apartheidaccusation. It is a brand new claim that is not part of the preliminary investigation Bensouda carried out. However, they consider “whatever leads to these investigations to be legitimate and does not matter which one it is, or whether it is true,” she states.
KARIM KHAN, new ICC prosecutor. (Credit: Michael Kooren/Reuters)
The third-member inquiry committee of the UN, which is headed by Navi Pillay, a native of South Africa and includes Miloon Kothari, Australia as well as Chris Sidoti, is the most recent attempt by Palestinians to get their message across to The Hague court.
Darshan Leitner writes that Pillay Kothari (and Sidoti) are known for their prejudices towards Israel. “Pillay herself has been accused of apartheid in Israel and was the inspiration for the antisemitic Durban conference. They’re not too far away.”
From February 28 through April 1, UN Human Rights Council (HRC49) will host the 49TH session.
The report of the commission of enquiry on Operation Guardian of the Walls will be the most significant part of the session. It will examine the Israeli operation against Gaza in May 2021 to deter Hamas from launching missiles at Israel. During this session, Israel will likely be accused of war crimes and apartheid, as well being accused of crimes against humanity.
Darshan Leitner says that even though the State of Israel is not cooperating or becoming involved in the commission of enquiry, Shurat Hasan cannot remain silent and ignore all the accusations that are certain to be brought up.
Israel Law Center Darshan Leitner declares that there are two possible strategies to fight the Pillay Commission. “One is the more practical approach – responding to the accusations of apartheid. Israel Law Center The second is the personal aspect, focusing on its members’ inimility.
She said that past experiences have demonstrated that Shurat HaiDin or anyone else is unlikely to persuade those who are already negatively attracted towards Israel to change.
Shurat Haidin suggests that Shurat Hadin is more interested in illustrating that all the members of the commission of enquiry have a bias towards Israel and that the UN will sacrifice its core values and notion of fairness to delegitimize Israel.
Darshan Leitner: “We are planning to launch a campaign that demands the resignation of all COI members.” “We will organize mass petitions against the COI and its members and anyone else who assists this committee,” Darshan-Leitner added.
Shurat HaDin also plans to show that the PA and not Israel are the true people who violate human rights. “We will be scanning their laws and taking away what we know about the discrimination against children, women, and the LGBTQ community as well as their legal system that is flawed. Do you know that a PA law permits a person to legally rape a wife? Marital rape is not an offense under their ‘advanced human-rights-friendly’ legislation.
https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/record.aspx?docNo=ICC-01/18-79 “This is just a tiny instance from the “champions” of human rights that the UN is eager to help. While accusing Israel of being apartheid , they promote a dictatorship which hasn’t had elections for fifteen years and which systematically violates the human right of its citizens.
Darshan Leitner states that Shurat HaDin also will expose the world to how minorities are treated inside the PA and Gaza.”The fate of Christians in the PA territories as well as Gaza is sealed,” she asserts. aviel darshan leitner Their numbers are decreasing. They are on the rise.
The Shurat HaDin leader believes Israel committed a number of serious errors in the handling of an earlier UNHRC commission of inquiry, which was headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone in 2009. In the infamous incident, Jerusalem refused to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, declaring it to be biased with a predetermined agenda that could not be legitimized by its cooperating. Israel was a victim of international tensions due to the highly critical final report.
“While Israel did the right choice in refusing to aid or join in the hateful witch-hunt based on Goldstone, I disagree that we played our hands properly. It’s not enough just to avoid the UNHRC or call them racist and discriminatory. The government must complement its decision by launching an organized and proactive campaign to spread its own narrative, and to combat the antisemitic UNHRC. Shurat Hadin She claims, “We can act, speak up, and use legal action in instances in which the government’s hands are tied.”
Darshan Leitner attempts to fill in this gap. She summarises the present situation and states that the PA’s ultimate goal is to influence The Hague’s chief prosecutor. “If I’m able to destroy the foundation and the claims of apartheid , to expose how absurd it is and show how it’s better suited to the PA that would prove that the Commission has no value.”
“If we do not take action on this, the consequences will be terrible. The prosecutor could be influenced and decide to change his decision. It would be a tragedy for the prosecution as well as could be a significant game changer. This isn’t going to happen.”