As I mentioned in my post last week, Mahmoud Abbas, acting in what appears to be a fit of pique on not achieving his goal of a Palestinian state at the UN Security Council, applied to join the International Criminal Court, (the ICC) and shortly thereafter petitioned the court to begin a probe against Israel for alleged war crimes committed in Operation Protective Edge.
Before we begin to panic, it would be instructive to understand exactly how the ICC works and what its jurisdiction is. Yonah Jeremy Bob in the Jerusalem Post tells us everything you need to know about the ICC, from which we learn that the path the Palestinians have chosen is not a smooth or easy one. Here are some interesting excerpts:
2. The Palestinians must officially file a complaint against individual Israeli soldiers and leaders. This is also far from guaranteed as it could expose the Palestinians to “mutually assured legal destruction” with the Palestinians facing probably worse war crime cases for indiscriminate rocket fire and Israelis facing complex grayer fog-of-war cases, in the Palestinians’ best scenario.
3. The ICC Prosecutor must decide based on the complaint to order a preliminary examination and then a full criminal investigation. It cannot do this unless it shows that Israel refuses to or is unable to investigate itself. Israel investigating itself does not require a set number of convictions, just reasonable investigations and Israel has already ordered 13 investigations into the Gaza war.
5. Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute or the ICC and, like some other countries which have directly or indirectly ignored the ICC, could choose not to give its citizens or evidence over for trials.
Now that Abbas has taken the plunge, Israel has not been backward in coming forward, and the first thing that Netanyahu did was to freeze Palestinian tax revenues that Israel collects on the PA’s behalf.
“The funds for the month of December were supposed to be transferred on Friday, but it was decided to stop it as part of the response to the Palestinian move,” a senior Israeli official told Haaretz.
A senior Palestinian official responded to the move, calling it “Israeli piracy,” Ynet reported.
Another senior PA official told The Times of Israel that the decision was a war crime. He said that the act will become the first complaint the Palestinians will present at the ICC, and that the PA has no intention of backing down from its intention to join the court. The tax revenue belongs to the Palestinians, he said, and delaying the transfer is a breach of international law.
I find it hilarious that the Palestinians, the world’s greatest pirates, accuse the Israelis of piracy. I guess it takes one to know one. The truth is that those funds should be withheld no matter what the ICC situation since the Palestinians owe Israel millions if not billions of shekels for unpaid electricity and water bills, not to mention unpaid tax, parking and driving fines, and generally unpaid bills to Israeli citizens. Piracy anyone?
Speaking of piracy I find it similarly highly entertaining that the Palestinians have applied to join Interpol.
He said joining Interpol will result in several international benefits for the PA, including the ability to take part in fighting cross-border crimes and fighting terrorism, money laundering, corruption, arms trade, and human trafficking.
Since the Palestinian Authority is a prime source of terrorism, money laundering, corruption and all the other ills mentioned above, I’m sure they will benefit greatly from joining Interpol. They can teach the other cops exactly how their systems work. After all, they say you should set a thief to catch a thief.
The Palestinians also risk losing their funding from the US due to their UN statehood bid, of which the US disapproved, and their subsequent ICC application:
In initiating a war crimes probe against Israel with the International Criminal Court, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may fall afoul of US legislation that would mandate defunding the PA. The US funds the PA to the tune of some $400 million per year.
… there is already bipartisan frustration with Abbas’s decision to put a Palestinian statehood resolution before the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, and, after the resolution was defeated, to sign on to the ICC on Wednesday.
Aaron David Miller, a former presidential advisor and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, believes that PA funding will be increasingly at risk in the Republican-controlled Congress that will be sworn in later this month.
“I think the odds of defunding are higher than they ever were before,” he told The Times of Israel. “A whole new reality has now been created and I suspect that they are going to close any loopholes that may exist regarding the funding. The world in Washington is about to change.”
Israel itself is also weighing massive lawsuits against Palestinian officials. After all, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander:
An Israeli official told Reuters on Saturday that Israel was “weighing the possibilities for large-scale prosecution in the United States and elsewhere” of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other top officials, a day after the PA submitted documents to the United Nations to join the International Criminal Court.
The official added that Palestinian leaders “ought to fear legal steps” as a response to their move toward ICC membership.
“(Hamas) … commits war crimes, shooting at civilians from civilian populated areas,” the official said, in reference to the 50-day conflict Israel fought with Hamas and other terror groups in and around Gaza. Israel lost 66 soldiers and six civilians, and a Thai agricultural worker, in the month-long conflict, while the Palestinian death toll surpassed 2,100, according to Hamas officials in Gaza. Israel said half of the Gaza dead were gunmen and blamed Hamas for all civilian deaths because it operated from residential areas, placing Gazans in harm’s way.
A second official told the news agency that Israel may push these cases via non-governmental organizations and pro-Israel legal groups who can file lawsuits abroad.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that it is the Palestinians who will find themselves in the dock for Hamas’s terrorism and indiscriminate rocket fire at Israel if they join the ICC. Netanyahu has accused Abbas of collaborating with the terror group after a unity deal was signed between the two rivals in April.
In any event Netanyahu has promised that no Israeli troops will be hauled before the ICC in the Hague.
However none of this has deterred the Palestinians who are once again mulling a bid to claim statehood at the UN with the new Security Council members:
Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Venezuela and Spain joined the UN body as non-permanent members Thursday, alongside Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria whose terms end in 2015. With the five permanent members — the US, UK, France, Russia and China — they now make up the 15-member council.
Given the new members who are deemed by the Palestinians as being more sympathetic, the PA may once again push the resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines by 2017 and a 12-month deadline for negotiations on a final peace deal.
This begs the question why didn’t Abbas wait until this week to submit his original statehood bid? It is much more likely to have passed, except that the US would have vetoed it. This would have been a double-win for the Palestinians: gaining recognition if not statehood, plus embarrassing the US. Thank goodness Abbas was too eager and jumped the gun.
Meanwhile our “peace partners” the Palestinian Authority, aka the PLO or Fatah, published a grossly disgusting picture on their official Facebook page of PM Netanyahu “ready to be hanged” at the ICC. (No, I will not post the picture here.)
How anyone in their right minds can think of the Palestinians as anywhere near ready to recognize Israel and make peace is incomprehensible.