By Ted Belman
The PA wants the UN to “raise the status of the Palestinians to a nonvoter observer state from that of a nonvoting “entity,” which could allow them to join many UN bodies, and pursue cases against Israel at the International Criminal Court.”
The ICC, pursuant to the Rome Statute, was set up to prosecute the following crimes,
(a) The crime of genocide;
(b) Crimes against humanity;
(c) War crimes;
(d) The crime of aggression.
but they gave very broad definition to them.
Israel is fully supportive of the goals of the court and its desire to ensure that no perpetrator of heinous crimes goes unpunished.
But, The Israel Ministry for Foreign Affairs explained why Israel refused to sign the treaty writing,
Israel has concerns as to how effectively these will be achieved through the court as it has been constituted. A major concern is that the court will be subjected to political pressures and its impartiality will be compromised. Israel has recently witnessed many international bodies, established for the highest goals such as protecting human rights and fighting racism, cynically abused and turned into political tools. Clearly, the court could only be effective if it remains scrupulously impartial. Regrettably, there are already some troubling indications that this impartiality may be compromised
As an example it said,
“Rewriting principles of international law – and inventing new crimes: While the court was intended to address the crimes which had been recognized as being the most serious crimes in international law, in practice the statute of the court frequently fails to reflect those crimes accurately.”
Although Israel is not a signatory to the treaty and therefore not directly bound by it, It could still be prosecuted under the principle of “universal Jurisdiction”.
After the Goldstone Report was published the PA and Amnesty International tried to get Israeli politicians and soldiers prosecuted pursuant to this principle but failed.
“Under the Rome treaty that founded it, the ICC can investigate and prosecute allegations of the most serious war crimes only if the country responsible is unwilling or unable to do so through its national courts.
“States that are party to the treaty can refer cases of crimes committed by their citizens or on their territory. Cases involving the citizens or territory of a country that has not signed up to the court can be referred by the United Nations Security Council ”
However, it also underlines some of Israel’s worst fears about a Palestinian state on its borders. A Palestinian state that ratified the Rome treaty would then be able to refer alleged Israeli war crimes to the court without the current legal wrangling.
In that event, Israel could avoid the Court’s jurisdiction, by agreeing to investigate its commanders and prosecute any crimes discovered. That would remove any case from the orbit of the international court. But Israel is not about to do that. Even if they did prosecute them, it wouldn’t satisfy the international community.
Regardless of whether the PA gets recognition as a state, the Security Council could also refer the case to the ICC but only in the absence of a U.S. veto.
According the the NYT today, U.S. Appeals to Palestinians to Stall U.N. Vote on Statehood
The administration has circulated a proposal for renewed peace talks with the Israelis in the hopes of persuading the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to abandon the bid for recognition at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly beginning Sept. 20.
I wonder what that proposal could be.
On the other side of the coin, some Palestinians are concerned. The GUARDIAN published A State of Palestine would backfire on its own people by Mehdi Hasan.
“Yet a hard-hitting, seven-page legal opinion on the consequences of Palestinian statehood, published recently by Guy Goodwin-Gill, a professor of international law at Oxford University, concluded that “the interests of the Palestinian people are at risk of prejudice and fragmentation” and the refugees in the diaspora risk losing “their entitlement to equal representation” and “their ability to vocalise their views, to participate in matters of national governance, including the formation and political identity of the state, and to exercise the right of return”.
“”Why? According to Goodwin-Gill, the PLO’s UN status would be transferred to the new state of Palestine after the vote on 20 September: a state confined to mere segments of the West Bank and perhaps Gaza; a state which most Palestinian refugees would have little or no connection to; a state which, lest we forget, does not actually exist. To have a PA-led fantasy state representing only West Bank and Gaza residents replace the PLO – representing all Palestinians – as Israel’s chief interlocutor would be a disaster.“
He also worries about what Gidi Grinstein, a founder of the Reut Institute, wrote in May in Haaretz.
“a declaration of a Palestinian state in September includes the possibility of a diplomatic breakthrough as well as significant advantages for Israel. The establishment of such a state will help anchor the principle of two states for two peoples, shape the permanent situation with Israel controlling the security assets and the new state’s surroundings, and diminish the refugee problem by marginalizing UNRWA and limiting refugee status.”
Grinstein believes that Obama should work not to prevent a Palestinian state, but, to ensure that the establishment of a Palestinian state conforms to Israel’s needs. But Grinstein was part of Barak’s negotiating team at Camp David so he is focused primarily on security as is Netanyahu.