Israel dodging the ICC probe with prospective partners-in-crime

Palestine Update 451

Israel dodging the ICC probe with prospective partners-in-crime

It is no surprise that the US has chosen to back Israel in its confrontation with the ICC. This unequivocally illustrates United States’ resolute loyalty to ‘Israel’s’ security while simultaneously disregarding Zionist genocidal crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

There is speculation that Israel is in backroom talks with EU States to push the ICC back and even have the investigation called off. In the meantime, Israel will do all it can to delay the investigation  hoping that Prosecutor Bensouda will retire and be replaced by British prosecutor Karim Khan. There is speculation that Karim Khan, might just call off or water down the probe. Israel’s desperate lobbying shows how a  fearful it is to be exposed to an honest probe. Israel argues that it has its own judicial system where a probe can be carried out. Israel contends that it can investigate itself and hence an external probe is redundant .The world knows beyond doubt that Israel’s judicial system cannot be trusted to deliver a verdict of guilt against war crimes and various other violations of international law that Israel has committed. 

The US has proven that a racist-colonialist-apartheid regime is the kind of political system  US administrations, whether Republican or Democrats, will back any day – political ethics be damned. The numbers that will stand for an ethical line of action against Israel’s intransigencies are politically insignificant. 

The launch of the ICC probe has also left Liberal Zionist groups in a quandary. They concur with Palestinians against the occupation but are unable to stand up and be counted when it comes to the probe against Israel’s criminalities.

Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq reports how, in 2000 alone, Israel seized the Corona-driven crises to press on with its settler project and heap on tyrannical measures against Palestinians in all their places of residence. War on Want reinforces this view when it claims that “a core part of what sustains that occupation is a military judicial system characterized by violations of international law”.

Yet, these facts are the mere tip of the iceberg. 37 Palestinian workers trying to cross into Israel through breaches in the separation barrier since the start of 2020; 23 were shot last year according to the UN. In the first two months of this year, 14 were shot under the same circumstances according to a report from Haaretz.

And the world watches muffled.

Please read these notes and links and disseminate widely.

Ranjan Solomon

US backs Zionist regime amid Intl. Criminal Court probe into war crimes against Palestinians
In brazen contempt for the international law, the US administration announced that it backs the Israeli occupation entity’s war crimes against Palestinians in the occupied territories amid the International Criminal Court [ICC] probe into those crimes. In a phone call with Zionist premier Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, US Vice President Kamala Harris underscored Washington’s support for the Tel Aviv regime, opposing what she referred to as the ICC’s “attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over ‘Israeli’ personnel”, the White House said in a statement.

The announcement follows a February 5 ruling by the international court claiming jurisdiction in the case. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who is set to be replaced by British prosecutor Karim Khan in June, said in December 2019 that war crimes had been or were being committed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She named the Zionist military, which has for years unleashed a reign of terror on Palestinians, as perpetrators of war crimes. The ICC probe is a harder proposition for these same liberals. It leaves them on sinking sand. And as they drag their feet in it, so does the criminal occupation.

‘If ICC indicts Israel, we can take US firms to court’
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said last week that an indictment of Israel by the International Criminal Court would open the door to U.S. companies and organizations being hauled before the court. It was for this reason, he said, that the United States had exerted “unparalleled” pressure against the P.A.’s 2015 request to join the ICC. The court’s chief prosecutor announced on March 3 that in response to an appeal by the P.A., the court would open an investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by Israelis and Palestinians since 2014.

Shtayyeh said, “Before we turned to the ICC, there had been tremendous and unparalleled pressure…I was in New York when a delegation from the State Department came. They left Washington, D.C., at six o’clock in the morning so that they could meet [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas in New York. The reason was that our membership in the ICC is not only against Israel.”

Liberal Zionist groups oppose occupation but can’t bring themselves to endorse ICC probe
The two decisions from the International Criminal Court in the last month to move forward on an investigation of war crimes in Palestine have shaken Israel and suggested that the power politics of Israeli impunity are finally going to change. These decisions have predictably angered Israel– “undiluted antisemitism” – and its lobby – “spurious allegations”– and been condemned by the American government. They have been welcomed by Palestine, which sought the actions.

But the decisions have put the liberal branch of the Israel lobby in an awkward position. For many years liberal Zionists have offered Israel political support in the U.S. but said that the occupation and Jewish settlement of lands across the Green Line must end in order for Israel to fulfill its promise as a democracy. Americans for Peace Now has diligently monitored settlement activity. J Street has built Congressional opposition to Israeli actions in the West Bank, such as demolitions and annexation. You’d think that the ICC investigation would give liberal Zionists a place to stand. At last someone is investigating settlements as a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

US congresswoman slams Biden administration’s opposition to ICC probe of Israel
US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib defended the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision to launch a probe into war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The ICC “has the authority and duty to independently and impartially investigate and deliver justice to victims of human rights violations and war crimes in Palestine and Israel,” the first Palestinian American elected to Congress tweeted. “The U.S. should not interfere with its ability to do so.”

Tlaib’s rebuke of the US opposition to the ICC probe came in response to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s remarks expressing firm opposition to such a probe. “The United States firmly opposes an International Criminal Court investigation into the Palestinian Situation,” he tweeted while vowing to “continue to uphold our strong commitment to Israel and its security, including by opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly.” Blinken was not the only US official to oppose ICC probe of possible war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories, as he was joined by US Vice President Kamala Harris. In a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, Harris and Netanyahu noted their governments’ “opposition to the International Criminal Court’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”

Prosecutor Bensouda has emphatically said in December 2019 that war crimes had been, or were being, committed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She named both the Israeli army and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas as possible perpetrators.

ICC probe expected to advance in coming weeks; Israel to decide if cooperating

The International Criminal Court will send Jerusalem a letter next week formally detailing the scope of its war crimes investigation against Israel and the Palestinians. Israel will then have 30 days to respond, the report said, adding that Jerusalem is leaning toward doing so after largely refusing to cooperate with The Hague-based international court until now. However,Israel is expected to use its response as an opportunity to once again voice the argument that the ICC has no jurisdiction to hear the case.

The hope in Israel is that its argument over jurisdiction will succeed in delaying the case until outgoing ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is replaced in June by British lawmaker Karim Khan, whom Jerusalem hopes may be less hostile or may even cancel the probe. Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz have begun reaching out to counterparts throughout Europe to galvanize support against the case. Netanyahu and Gantz have been stressing in those calls that the investigation is biased against Israel, which has an independent legal system capable of prosecuting any alleged crimes.

Israel has sent warnings to the Palestinian Authority, which had submitted the requests to the ICC in 2014 that led to these probes, telling Ramallah that the war crime investigation will make it difficult for Jerusalem to advance confidence-building measures for the Palestinians. The announcement of the investigation came less than a month after the court ruled it had the jurisdiction to open a probe. A preliminary investigation to settle the justiciability question took more than five years. “The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the situation since 13 June 2014, the date to which reference is made in the referral of the situation to my office.”

Al Haq says Human rights violations escalated in 2020
2020 was a dismal year for human rights in Palestine, as Israel tightened its grip on the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) through escalated attacks on Palestinians and their property and the introduction of new laws to further limit Palestinian rights, all in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new field report from Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq released this week details the numerous human rights violations that occurred throughout Palestine, particularly in the occupied West Bank, during 2020 – violations that the group said were exacerbated by, and spurred on, by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Al-Haq states that while Palestinians focused their efforts into combating the spread of the coronavirus in 2020, Israel “seized the opportunity to advance its settler project and intensify repressive measures against Palestinians in all their places of residence.” Those repressive measuresincluded massive home demolitions, land confiscation, settlement expansion, and the violation of freedom of movement and the right to health, among other things.

 Israel’s military courts for Palestinians – a stain on international justice
The overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the West Bank was born into, and has spent their entire lives, under, an Israeli military occupation that violates their right to self-determination. A new report by the UK charity War on Want exposes how a core part of what sustains that occupation is a military judicial system characterized by violations of international law.

The report – “Judge, Jury and Occupier” – is a deep dive into the diverse ways in which Palestinians’ rights are being violated – from arrest, through interrogation, conviction and jail time. It reflects the experiences of Palestinian lawyers and human rights groups.

One of the report’s important contributions is to make clear that, despite the Oslo accords and establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) for Palestinians in the West Bank, there has been, and remains, no escape from Israel’s military judicial system. Regardless of the existence of the PA penal code and judiciary, which operate with limited autonomy in parts of the occupied territory, all Palestinians, wherever they reside in the West Bank, remain subject to the jurisdiction of Israel’s military courts if they fall foul of certain laws.