UN Gaza Inquiry Chair to Resign over Israeli Bias Allegations

NEW YORK, February 3, 2015 (WAFA) – Chairman of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, William Schabas, said he will resign from his post ahead of Israeli allegations of bias to the Palestinian side, due to a consultancy work he provided to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

In a letter to the commission received by Reuters, Schabas said he would step down immediately to prevent the issue from overshadowing the preparation of the report and its findings, which are due to be published in March.

Schabas’ resignation comes weeks after prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague started a preliminary inquiry into alleged atrocities in the Palestinian territories.

Schabas said a legal opinion he wrote for the Palestine Liberation Organization in 2012, for which he was paid $1,300, was not different from advice he had given to many other governments and organizations.

“My views on Israel and Palestine as well as on many other issues were well known and very public,” he wrote. “This work in defense of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks.”

Schabas was appointed last August by the head of the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead a three-member group looking into war crimes during Israel’s military aggression on Gaza last summer.

More than 2,150 Palestinians were killed and 10,000 others injured during the Israeli aggression last summer, which lasted for 51 days. Hundreds of thousands others were left homeless since then due to mass destruction of major bordering neighborhoods by Israeli air and artillery attacks.

UNRWA, in charge of caring for Gaza refugees, recently declared it was forced to suspend its cash assistance program in Gaza to tens of thousands of people for repairs to damaged and destroyed homes and for rental subsidies to the homeless.