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Nitsana darshan-Leitner outlines the challenges Israel faces in the coming weeks, courtesy of the United Nations while sitting in the Tel Aviv offices of Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center.

Her calm, almost serene demeanor defies the fierce opposition Israel is facing from both the UN Human Rights Council, as well the three-member Commission of Inquiry [COI], who was assigned by the UN “investigate” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, East Jerusalem and Israel any alleged violation of the international humanitarian law, in addition to any alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law up to and up to April 13, 2021.

While Israel was the victim of UN-led investigations in the past, it’s obvious that this investigation was designed to continue and examine Israel and its IDF. The duration of the commission is not yet set.

Darshan-Leitner clarifies, “The UN Human Rights Council investigation isn’t just appearing out of in the air,” and he established Shurat HaDin back in 2003. It is linked to the happenings in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The Rome Statute, which established the ICC in 1998, created it. The court has the power to prosecute people for crimes of aggression or crimes against humanity, as well as genocide. Shurat Hadin Israel supported the idea of an International Court of Justice, however, they were concerned about the possibility that it would be applied against them. Israel, the US and many other nations have not signed or ratified this law and thus are not legally obliged.

Shurat Hadin Fatou Bensouda was the ICC prosecutor in The Hague and announced in March 2021 that she would be starting a war crimes investigation against Israel.

A decision of the International Court against Israel could have major implications. Most European and Scandinavian nations have joined the court and legally bound to follow the court’s rulings. Anyone Israeli soldier who took part in IDF military missions and traveled to countries which have been deemed members of the court such as Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, could be detained if the ICC declared that IDF soldiers were guilty of war crimes. Harsh economic sanctions could be imposed against the Jewish state and its banking sector.

Israel may be also exposed to other threats, such as sanctions, embargoes on weapons, or even boycotts. El Al and other Israeli transporters might not be allowed to conduct business in some countries, as an instance.

Bensouda’s tenure as prosecutor, and she was succeeded by Karim Khan (a British barrister). Bensouda was able to inherit 14 investigations, which included eight ongoing investigations. The new prosecutor was able to inherit them all. Darshan Leitner explained how to the dismay of Palestinians, he classified the items on the docket of his court as “in the process of preparation”. This was a polite way of saying the claims did not have the merit or urgency that merited the court’s attention.

“This upset the Palestinian Authority,” says Darshan-Leitner. “They couldn’t grasp why their incredible efforts to get to the prosecutor and open an investigation were blocked,” Darshan-Leitner said.

The PA demanded that a commission be established at the International Court of Justice. This would allow Karim Khan, who was unable to take the PA’s suggestion for reactivation of ICC investigations into Israel in the past, to change his decision.

Darshan Leitner states that Israel was in the eyes of the PA of war crimes, apartheid, and other crimes. Amnesty International released a report in February which claimed Israel of apartheid behavior inside and outside the Green Line. The report said that Israel “has established and maintained an institution of oppression” against Palestinians and also accused Israel of imposing racial segregation of Palestinians from 1948.

nitsana darshan leitner Darshan Leitner says the Palestinian allegations against Israel at the International Criminal Court are focused on two areas. The IDF military operations and the issue of Israeli settlements. Both of these, they say, constitute war crimes.

Karim Khan Karim Khan ICC prosecutor, is now being pressured by Palestinians to prioritize the investigation into Israel under the “apartheid” claim which is a brand new assertion which was not one of those even investigated in the preliminary investigation which Bensouda was pursuing. However, she added, “Whatever gets this investigation moving is legit to them regardless of the nature or if it’s true.”

KARIM KHAN, new ICC prosecutor. (Credit: Michael Kooren/Reuters)
The latest effort by the Palestinians to convince the court at The Hague is the UN’s three-member commission of inquiry which is which is headed by Navi Pillay, who hails from South Africa, and which includes Miloon Kothari (India) and Chris Sidoti (Australia).

Darshan Leitner reports that Pillay Kothari (and Sidoti) are well-known for their biases toward Israel. “Pillay herself has been accused of accusing Israel of apartheid and she was the living spirit behind the infamous antisemitic Durban conferences. “The others are following the footsteps of these leaders.”

From February 28 to April 1, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 49th session (HRC49), will take place in Geneva at its Geneva office.

The main focus of the session is likely to be the report of the inquiry commission regarding Operation Guardian of the Walls. It refers to the Israeli operation that took place in Gaza as a result of the Hamas missiles fired at Israel in May 2021. At the time of the session Israel is expected to face accusations of apartheid, war crimes, as well as crimes against humanity.

Darshan Leitner states that although the State of Israel will not be involved in or cooperate with the commission of inquiry, Shurat HaDin cannot sit still and oblivious to the allegations that are likely to come out of the commission.

Darshan Leitner stated that there are two major alternatives to counter the Pillay panel. “One is the pragmatic response in response to allegations of apartheid. Shurat Hadin The other is the personal angle that is focused on the members’ lack impartiality.

She claims that her previous experience has shown that Shurat HaDin or another individual will not be able to influence people already negative about Israel to change their mind.

Instead, she suggests Shurat HaDin plans on illustrating that all the committee of inquiry members have a bias against Israel and the UN will sacrifice its fundamental values and any notion of fairness to advance the cause of the delegitimization of Israel.

Darshan Leitner Darshan Leitner explains “We’re planning to start an initiative that calls for all COI members to resign.” “We will launch a mass petition against the COI and its members and anyone else who assists this committee,” Darshan-Leitner said.

Shurat HaDin will also attempt to establish that it’s not Israel, but the PA that are the true people who violate human rights. “We will examine their laws to find out what we can uncover discrimination against women, children as well as the LGBTQ community as well their inadequate legal system. Did you know that PA law allows one to legally rape his wife? Marital rape is not an offense under their ‘advanced human-rights-friendly’ legislation.

This is only one example of the UN’s ‘champions for human rights which the UN will do everything to help. While they accuse Israel which is a genuine democratic state – of apartheid they promote a tyranny, that hasn’t held elections in the last 15 years and that routinely violates the human rights of its own people.”

Darshan Leitner declared that Shurat Hasina will also reveal to the world the discrimination against minorities in Gaza and Gaza, the PA territories, as well as Gaza. Their numbers are decreasing. Islamic extremists that call to kill ‘infidels’ are no better than ISIS figures are increasing.”

The Shurat HaDin leader believes that Israel committed a number of serious mistakes when it dealt with the previous UNHRC inquiry commission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone in 2009. Jerusalem refused to cooperate in the Goldstone Commission during that famous incident. They claimed that the Goldstone Commission was biased and had a predetermined agenda. This would have no effect on its ability to work with it. Israel was a victim of international tensions due to the highly critical final report.

“While I completely agree that Israel was in the right to refuse to facilitate or cooperate with the vile Goldstone witch hunt, I don’t believe that we played our cards well. It’s not enough to simply ignore UNHRC and call them prejudiced or hateful. The government must supplement its decision by organizing a proactive and well-organized campaign to disseminate its own narrative and to counterattack on the anti-Semitic UNHRC.”This is the reason why an NGO such as Shurat HaDin can play such an important role. She suggests that we engage, speak out and pursue legal actions in situations where the government’s hands are bound.”

Darshan Leitner aims to fill this gap. She summarises the present situation and explains that the PA’s ultimate goal is to influence the Hague’s chief prosecutor. It is my goal to dismantle the foundation of this commission and show that it is a misguided organization and how apartheid-related claims are false and are better suited to the PA. This will demonstrate that the commission has no value.

“If we don’t take this step, the results will be poor. nitsana darshan leitner The prosecutor could be influenced or alter his mind. This will be a tragic and significant loss. It’s not possible to do this.”