Palestinians Sign Up to Join International Criminal Court after UN Rejection – Ruth Eglash and Carol Morello
A day after a failed bid at the UN, PA President Mahmoud Abbas moved Wednesday to join the International Criminal Court, setting the stage for potential war-crimes complaints against Israel.
The move could end up backfiring, opening some Palestinians to prosecution over the actions of Hamas, which the U.S. and Israel have designated a terrorist group. ICC prosecutors have made clear that they will investigate all allegations of misdeeds in a dispute, not just those of one side. That means Palestinians could be called to answer for Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israeli population centers and the group’s use of civilians as human shields.
Congress also could take action in response. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said funding for Palestinians would be cut if they initiate an investigation of Israel. (Washington Post)
Mahmoud Abbas’ fixation on taking Israeli political and military leaders to the International Criminal Court sounds dramatic and even threatening. But it involves a large degree of self-delusion. The Court’s complex evidentiary rules, specifically the rule of “complementarity,” prevents the Court’s exercising its jurisdiction if the case in question is already subject to investigation and potential juridical process by the nation state of the accused. Furthermore, Abbas is evidently misjudging the weight of Israeli material, visual and other evidence justifying the recent military actions in Gaza. Thus it is highly unlikely that any such attempt to bring Israeli leaders to trial would succeed.
Even more noteworthy is the likelihood that the Palestinian leadership, in giving the Court jurisdiction over the territories, including Gaza, would be placing itself – as well as senior Hamas commanders – at the mercy of anyone who chooses to initiate claims against them for serious war crimes and terrorism. These crimes, of which they openly boast, include willful and large-scale targeting of Israeli civilians, towns and villages, and the willful and systematic use of their own civilians and civilian structures, including homes, schools, hospitals, mosques, clinics and UN properties, as civilian and human shields – all serious war crimes.
There is also another consideration militating against Abbas’ ICC gambit. The International Criminal Court has hardly got off the ground as a viable international juridical body. The last thing it needs is to be labeled one more UN-style “Israel-bashing” institution, manipulated by the Palestinians. The ICC knows full well that permitting itself to be manipulated into “hounding” Israeli leaders could permanently prejudice its credibility, integrity and juridical independence. The writer, a former Israel Foreign Ministry legal advisor and ambassador to Canada, is director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Report)
The Palestinians and the ICC – David Bosco
However the Palestine situation reaches the ICC, the prosecutor’s office will consider Palestinian crimes as well as those by Israel. If the court investigates the recent Gaza conflict, it’s all but certain that Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket attacks and certain other tactics would receive immediate scrutiny.
The U.S. Congress has already warned about cuts in U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority if it joins the ICC. As the New York Times reports, “The United States Congress had long threatened to impose sanctions against the Palestinian Authority, including the loss of about $400 million in annual aid, if it joined the court.” The writer is assistant professor at American University’s School of International Service.(Points of Order)
The decision by the PA to sign the Rome Statute, a step towards joining the International Criminal Court (ICC), follows more than a decade of intense lobbying and propaganda campaigns by NGOs that promote legal warfare against Israel.
“Attempting to litigate the highly charged Arab-Israeli conflict in the ICC could spell the end of the court, and the NGOs and their European funders will be responsible,” said Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor legal advisor.
(Click on the title of any article to see the whole article…Ed.)