Palestinians urge International Criminal Court to act against Israel

After three years of diplomatic warfare, the Palestinians are again calling on the ICC to take action against Israel. 

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad Malki on Friday called on International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to “exercise her statutory authority, without delay” in order to prevent what he claimed was Israel’s “continuation and perpetuation of crimes against the Palestinian people.”

Three years after the opening of the preliminary examinations of Palestinian claims against Israel, Malki dispatched a letter to Bensouda, pointing her attention to the “recent escalation of violence by Israeli occupation forces in their implementation of unlawful colonial policies and practices” over the past month, including what he described as the “unlawful killing” of 16 Palestinians and the injury of approximately 3000 and detention of 720, including 184 children.

In particular, the letter protests the arrest in December of Ahed Tamimi, who was charged for assaulting IDF soldiers.

“These widespread and systematic practices form an integral part of the system of oppression and racism the Israeli government employs against the Palestinian people. Ahed’s case merely serves as further proof of well-established Israeli policies of severe and discriminatory deprivation of fundamental rights of Palestinians,” Malki stated.

Malki also requested that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) state its position regarding “the incessant violence being committed against Palestinians,” in line with the established practice of the OTP in this regard.

Israel rejects ‘absurd’ allegations

On January 16, 2015, Bensouda announced a preliminary investigation into “the situation in Palestine,” an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes against Palestinians, including during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

Israel rejects the “absurd decision” by the ICC, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated at the time.

“It’s absurd for the ICC to ignore international law and agreements, under which the Palestinians don’t have a state and can only get one through direct negotiations with Israel. It’s absurd for the ICC to go after Israel, which upholds the highest standards of international law. Our actions are subject to the constant and careful review of Israel’s world-renowned and utterly independent legal system,” he stated.

The US also voiced vigorous opposition to the Palestinian move. “As we have said repeatedly, we do not believe that ‘Palestine’ is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC,” a State Department statement read. “It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC.”

Desperate measures?

The Palestinians may be taking desperate measures since the deterioration of the Palestinian Authority’s relationship with the US. The Palestinian National Council held a two-day conference last week to discuss new strategy in the wake of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. At the conference, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas denied Israel’s right to exist and cursed Trump.

Since becoming a member of the ICC in 2015, the Palestinians have repeatedly appealed to the body to take action against Israel as part of its campaign to wage diplomatic warfare at international forums against the Jewish state. These moves are also among the unilateral steps taken by the Palestinian Authorityto achieve de facto statehood without make peace with Israel.

The ICC does not have jurisdiction over the State of Israel, which, like the US, is not a signatory to the Treaty of Rome. However, the ICC could prosecute Israeli citizens, including members of the IDF, for alleged war crimes committed on Palestinian territory.