In a letter to the commission, a copy of which was seen 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' departure highlights the sensitivity of the UN investigation just weeks after prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague said they had started a preliminary inquiry into alleged atrocities in the Palestinian territories.
In the letter, 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 (...)."Indeed, his views on Israel and the 'Palestinians' were well known, which is exactly why he should not have been chosen to head this panel in the first place.
But what the UN is trying to do by having Schabas resign is beyond disgraceful: Schabas has already completed the 'fact-finding,' which means that the report has effectively been written. Schabas' bias will seep throughout the report, because he determined what 'facts' would be included in the report. But now Schabas can deny responsibility for the report itself, because after all he's not writing the final version.
Isn't the 'international community' great?