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Navi Pillay Photo: AP
Navi Pillay Photo: AP
 
 

Double standard commissioner

Op-ed: It took head of UN Human Rights Council a long time to realize Hamas was violating international law

Noah Klieger
Published: 08.21.13, 11:02 / Israel Opinion

In the 1950s David Ben-Gurion coined the phrase "Um-Shmum (um is the Hebrew acronymic pronunciation for 'UN', and the 'shm'-prefix signifies contempt or irony). And he was right, because the world body is undoubtedly peculiar, to say the least, as was proven in hundreds of cases since its establishment.

 

Last week UN human rights chief Navi Pillay urged the Gaza Strip's Islamist rulers Hamas to halt a string of executions planned after the end of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.

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Pillay said international human rights law requires rigorous fair trial standards in cases where death sentences are applied.

 

"One absolute requirement is that the death penalty can only be imposed after a fair trial. This is currently not possible in Gaza, neither legally nor practically," she said.

 

Pillay has finally reached the conclusion that in Gaza things are being done in violation of international law by a regime that does not permit fair trials. Great. Although it took the UN's Human Rights Council several years to reach this revolutionary and surprising conclusion, in this case we can say "better late than never," because until now the Council has shown - through dozens of anti-Israel resolutions that completely contradict the evidence at its disposal – that it applies double standards.

 

The Geneva-based Right Council, which consists of representatives from such human rights proponents as Sudan, Zimbabwe, Mauritania and Syria, was shocked to find that with regards to executions, the regime in Gaza is acting in violation of international law. But what about the other actions of the Hamas government in Gaza, such as the launching of rockets on the communities of a sovereign country which is a member of the UN, enforces the rule of law and has no capital punishment? Are such attacks not a violation of international law? Do they not, at the very least, warrant Pillay's condemnation?

 

And what about kidnapping an Israeli soldier and holding him in complete isolation for five and a half years without allowing any Red Cross representative to visit him? Does this not violate international law? Hamas' use of the kidnapped soldier to extort Israel did not seem to particularly concern Pillay or the members of her council, not to mention the use of civilian homes in Gaza to hide ammunition and rockets as a way of preventing IDF attacks, or the storage of rockets beneath soccer fields.

 

Even the fact that Gaza's rulers are vehemently opposed to any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians - thus eliminating any chance of a peaceful resolution to the Mideast conflict – does not cause the UN's knights of human rights to lose any sleep.

 

Something appears to be very rotten in the UN Human Rights Council.

 

 

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