The dramatic alignment of Hollywood, politics and the Middle East is not to be. George Clooney's fiancée Amal Alamuddin has turned down an offer to serve on the United Nations commission of inquiry into possible human rights violations in Gaza, only hours after being appointed to the panel.
The 36-year-old lawyer, who was born in Lebanon but raised in Britain, was one of three experts appointed to the inquiry, alongside Doudou Diene of Senegal and William Schabas of Canada. However, in a statement released on Monday evening, Alamuddin said: "I was contacted by the UN about this for the first time this morning... I am honored to have received the offer, but given existing commitments — including eight ongoing cases — unfortunately could not accept this role."
The lawyer added that she is “horrified by the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, particularly the civilian casualties that have been caused,” adding that "there should be an independent investigation and accountability for crimes that have been committed”.
A UN statement said the aim of the commission is to investigate the military operations conducted since June 13th and therein "all violations of humanitarian law and international human rights law," with Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, suggesting in July that Israeli airstrikes against Gaza could amount to “war crimes”. The Commission of inquiry is scheduled to report its findings in March next year.
Alamuddin, who speaks fluent Arabic, French and English and has degrees from Oxford and New York University, had toiled for the UN before, having helped ex-UN chief Kofi Annan try to secure a peace deal in Syria. She also boasts Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko among her past clients.
Her initial appointment was announced shortly after the latest 72-hour cease-fire brokered by Egypt came in effect. More than 1,900 Palestinians have perished in the recent conflict, along with 67 Israelis.
Alamuddin and Clooney were engaged earlier this year, with the couple due to wed in Italy in September.