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Nitsana Darshan-Leitner discusses the issues 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, almost peaceful manner of speaking hides the ferocious opposition Israel will likely to encounter from the UN Human Rights Council and its three-member Commission of Inquiry. This was ordered by the UN to “investigate both within the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel any alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law until and including the 13th day of April 2021.”

There have been numerous vigorous UN investigation into Israel before, what distinguishes the current investigation is that it was created as a permanent and ongoing inquiry to probe Israel and the IDF. The commission was not given an expiration date for its time.

Darshan-Leitner says, “The UN Human Rights Council probe is not being made up out of thin air.” and he founded Shurat HaDin back in 2003. Israel Law Center “It’s connected to the proceeding of the International Court of Justice (The Hague).

The 1998 Rome Statute created the ICC. The court is able to bring charges against individuals for crimes of aggression or crimes against humanity, as well as genocide. Israel supported the idea of an International Court of Justice, but was concerned about the possibility of it being used to be employed against them. The US, Israel and many other countries have not signed or ratified the statute. Therefore, they aren’t legally bound by the rulings of the ICC.

Fatou Bensouda the ICC prosecutor from The Hague announced in March 2021 that she would be initiating a war crime investigation against Israel, Hamas, and other nations.

A decision by the International Court against Israel could have major implications. The court is part of most European and Scandinavian nations, and they are legally bound to respect the decisions of its members. If the ICC has ruled that IDF soldiers had committed war crimes and all Israelis who participated in IDF military operations could be detained. This is true for those who travel to the member states like Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Economic sanctions that are harsh could be imposed against the Jewish state as well as the banking industry.

Israel could also be exposed to other risks , including sanctions, embargoes on weapons, or even boycotts. El Al or other Israeli carrier might be banned from operating in certain countries.

Bensouda’s term ended as prosecutor in June 2021 and was replaced by Karim Khan who is a British barrister. Bensouda’s 14 cases, eight of which were in the process of being completed, were transferred to the new prosecutor. Darshan Leitner explained the process by which, to the horror of Palestinians they were shocked, he classified cases on the dockets of his court as “in preparation stage”. This polite way of describing the cases didn’t have the credibility or urgency that merited the court’s focus.

“This caused a lot of anger to the Palestinian Authority,” says Darshan-Leitner. “They couldn’t understand how their tireless efforts to convince the prosecutor to open an investigation have been slowed down.”

The PA demanded the establishment of a commission at the International Court of Justice. This would allow Karim Khan, who was unable to take the PA’s suggestion to reactivate ICC investigations into Israel in the past, to change his opinion.

Since then, says Darshan-Leitner, the PA has continued to denounce Israel of committing war crimes as well as apartheid. The Amnesty International report, released in the beginning of February it claimed Israel of committing apartheid violations both within and beyond the Green Line. The report states that, Israel “has created and maintained an oppressive regime that has been institutionalized” against Palestinians. The report also said that it had accused Israel of discrimination against racial groups of Palestinians since 1948.

Darshan Leitner says the Palestinian allegations against Israel at the International Criminal Court are focused on two specific areas. The IDF military operations, as well as the issue of Israeli settlements. Both of these areas they claim are war crimes.

Karim Khan the ICC prosecutor is pushed by Palestinians to prioritize Israel’s investigation on the “apartheid” claim. The claim was not examined in the initial investigation Bensouda initiated. However, they consider “whatever leads to these investigations to be legitimate and doesn’t really matter what it might be or whether it’s factual,” she states.

nitsana darshan leitner KARIM KHAN, new ICC prosecutor. (Credit: Michael Kooren/Reuters)
The UN’s three-member Commission of Inquiry, led by Navi Pillay (South Africa) and including Miloon Kthari (India) and Chris Sidoti [Australia), is the most recent attempt to persuade The Hague.

Darshan Leitner writes that Pillay Kothari (and Sidoti) are well-known for their biases in favor of Israel. “Pillay is a known as a victim of apartheid. She also has been accused of accusing Israel of using apartheid. The others are not far behind.”

Between February 28th and April 1st, the UN Human Rights Council will be holding its 49th session (HRC49).

The main attraction of the session is likely to be the report that the commission of inquiry will publish on Operation Guardian of the Walls. This was the Israeli operation in Gaza in the month of May 2021 as an answer to the missiles launched towards Israel by Hamas. The next session will include Israel be accused of war crimes, as well as apartheid and crimes against humanity.

Darshan Leitner said that although Israel is not cooperating with the commission of inquiry or become involved, Shurat haDin can’t ignore the allegations that are likely to be made by the commission.

Darshan Leitner says that there are two ways to counter the Pillay commission. “One is the material response – answering the accusations of apartheid. Another is the personal angle , focusing on the lack of integrity of its members.”

She says that her previous experience shows that Shurat haDin, or any other person, is not capable of convincing those already anti- Israel to change their mind.

Shurat HaDin, she suggests, plans to illustrate that all members on the commission of inquiry have biases towards Israel and that the UN will sacrifice its core principles and any sense of fairness to delegitimize Israel.

Darshan Leitner states, “We will launch a campaign that calls for the resignation of the entire COI members.” “We will launch a mass petition against the COI and its members, as well as any other person who assists this committee,” Darshan-Leitner added.

Shurat HaDin on the other hand, is going to try to demonstrate that the PA is the real violation of human rights. “We will scrutinize their laws and draw out what we know: the discrimination towards women, children and those belonging to the LGBTQ community, and their broken law system. Do you know that one is legally allowed to rape a spouse under PA law? Marital rape is not an offense under their ‘advanced human-rights-friendly’ legislation.

This is only one example of the UN’s “champions of human rights’ that the UN is eager to help. While they are claiming Israel of apartheid, the UN promotes the rule of law with no elections in 15 years, and consistently infringes on its own human rights.

nitsana darshan leitner Darshan Leitner said that Shurat Hasina is also going to expose the world the treatment of minorities in Gaza and Gaza, the PA territories, and Gaza. Their numbers are constantly decreasing. Islamic extremists that call to massacre ‘infidels,’ who aren’t any more than ISIS numbers are growing.”

Shurat HaDin’s leader believes that Israel has made a number of mistakes when it handled the 2009 UNHRC investigation into Richard Goldstone, a South African jurist. Jerusalem refused collaboration with the Goldstone Commission after it found out that the Goldstone Commission had a biased agenda. Israel suffered a lot from the negative report’s aftermath.

Israel Law Center “While Israel did the right thing in refusing to assist or cooperate with the hateful witch-hunt based on Goldstone, I do not believe that we played our cards well. It isn’t enough to just not acknowledge the UNHRC and call them prejudiced or a hater. The government had to complement its decision with an organized and proactive campaign to disseminate the government’s narrative and counterattack against the anti-Semitic UNHRC. She says, “We can act, speak up, and use legal actions in cases in which the government’s hands are tied.”

nitsana darshan leitner Darshan Leitner is hoping to fill the void. She summarizes the current circumstances and explains that the purpose of the PA is to influence The Hague’s Chief Prosecutor. So, “if I can uproot the foundation of the commission to expose how erroneous it is, and how the claim of apartheid is wrong and more suited to the PA, it will show that the commission is devoid of significance.

“If we do not take this action then the consequences could be devastating. The prosecutor may be influenced to reconsider his decision. It will be a tragic and devastating loss. We cannot let this happen.”