It is important that the Commission be presented with the first-hand testimony of individuals in Israel so that it can be true to – and held accountable to- its stated mandate: ““to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after”. (Emphasis added.)
Per the U.N. Commissioners’ Call for Submissions of testimony:
The Commissioners wish to make it clear that they interpret this mandate to include investigations of the activities of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including attacks on Israel as well as the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip and Israeli actions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. The Commission of Inquiry is looking at a broad range of alleged violations committed by all parties, and is considering the full range of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights.
The Commissioners personally wish to reassure all those who have suffered so intensely as a result of this conflict that they will do their utmost to fulfill their mandate to the best of their abilities. The three Commissioners have traveled to the region and plan follow-up trips in early 2015. (Emphasis added.)
The Israeli government has chosen to ignore the Commission’s work for now – believing that the Commission will cherry-pick evidence and present a report reflecting foregone conclusions inherently biased against Israel. Given that the Commission’s mandate is lop-sided on its face (as evidenced by the Commissioners’ interpretation of their mission, inter alia, to investigate [only] Israeli actions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem [while ignoring Hamas activity there],) the Israeli government’s position is not without basis. Indeed, the badly flawed Goldstone report -which was the result of a similar Commission’s investigating the 2008 round of the Gaza conflict- might provide support for the government’s choice to stay away from the current Commission’s effort. The Israeli government refused to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, as well, believing -with good reason- that it would produce a biased report. However, it should be noted that upon receiving the information of a follow-up report, judge Goldstone himself retracted key provisions of the original one in a 2011 Washington Post editorial, stating explicitly: “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.” Later in 2011, judge Goldstone wrote an editorial in the New York Times, also rebutting the slander that Israel is an Apartheid regime.
Bias against Israel on the part of current Commission -whether real or perceived- should not stop injured parties from submitting testimony; but rather should encourage it. If the Commission refuses to relate seriously and transparently to the injuries of Israeli victims then this will constitute grounds for condemnation of a biased report. On the other hand, if the Commissioners do relate seriously and transparently to the testimony of Israelis injured, perhaps they will be less likely to repeat the same errors which characterized the Goldstone Commission’s first report. In any event, submitting testimony will preclude protestations of sheer ignorance to justify warped findings of fact or conclusions of law.