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Palestine Joins the International Criminal Court to Bring War Crimes Cases Against Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has moved to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to pursue war crimes cases against Israel.

The Associated Press reported on December 31:

At the international court, the Palestinians could seek to have Israeli military or political figures prosecuted for alleged crimes involving settlement construction on occupied lands or actions by the military that cause heavy civilian casualties, for instance.

Israel is not a member of the court and does not recognize its jurisdiction. And the court has no police force and no authority to go into Israel and arrest suspects. But it could issue arrest warrants that would make it difficult for Israeli officials to travel abroad.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated that there will be retaliation from Israel for joining the ICC. He has promised to protect Israeli troops from prosecution and threatened to push the ICC to go after the Palestinian Authority.

United States State Department director of the Office of Press Relations, Jeff Rathke, put out a statement showing the agency was “deeply troubled by today’s Palestinian action regarding the ICC.”

“It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people. Actions like this are not the answer. Hard as it is, all sides need to find a way to work constructively and cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence and find a path forward,” Rathke added.

As is typical with official statements from the US government, it ignores the real and actual dynamic of oppression created and fueled by the Israeli government against Palestinians.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman went on a tirade on Facebook, arguing “the only ones who commit war crimes in the conflict are the Palestinians themselves, who are responsible for the murderous terrorism against babies, children, men and women indiscriminately, for the last hundred years.

“The same judge deaf, blind and dumb idea. So that Abu Mazen will not threaten us, the country with the most moral army in the world!” Lieberman wailed.

Human rights organizations, like Amnesty International, have advocated Palestine join the ICC. Philip Luther, the director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Program, declared in May 2014, “Doing so would send an important message that entrenched impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on Palestinian territories must end once and for all.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released a statement praising the move by Palestine.

With the move to grant the ICC jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Palestine, a new door is open to hold Israeli officials accountable for the serious violations committed against Palestinians. This is one avenue the United States cannot block. U.S. and Israeli efforts to keep Palestine from accepting both the protections and responsibilities of the ICC – a court neither country will join – have failed. We hope this marks the end of the era of Israeli impunity and U.S. complicity.

CCR also noted that Palestine plans to sign on to the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions as well as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

US Government Photo by the State Department and in the public domain.

CommunityFDL Main BlogThe Dissenter

Palestine Joins the International Criminal Court to Bring War Crimes Cases Against Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has moved to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to pursue war crimes cases against Israel.

The Associated Press reported on December 31:

At the international court, the Palestinians could seek to have Israeli military or political figures prosecuted for alleged crimes involving settlement construction on occupied lands or actions by the military that cause heavy civilian casualties, for instance.

Israel is not a member of the court and does not recognize its jurisdiction. And the court has no police force and no authority to go into Israel and arrest suspects. But it could issue arrest warrants that would make it difficult for Israeli officials to travel abroad.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated that there will be retaliation from Israel for joining the ICC. He has promised to protect Israeli troops from prosecution and threatened to push the ICC to go after the Palestinian Authority.

United States State Department director of the Office of Press Relations, Jeff Rathke, put out a statement showing the agency was “deeply troubled by today’s Palestinian action regarding the ICC.”

“It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people. Actions like this are not the answer. Hard as it is, all sides need to find a way to work constructively and cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence and find a path forward,” Rathke added.

As is typical with official statements from the US government, it ignores the real and actual dynamic of oppression created and fueled by the Israeli government against Palestinians. (more…)

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."

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