US: Palestinian quest for justice counterproductive

Exposing Israeli war crimes

By Stuart Littlewood

You could not make it up.

“The one who needs to fear the International Criminal Court in The Hague is the Palestinian Authority, which has a unity government with Hamas, a terror organisation like [the Islamic State group] which commits war crimes.” So says Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

This certifiable crackpot, this bloody butcher who tops the world’s “most wanted” list, was speaking after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute, at long last joining Palestine to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Membership of the ICC could enable the Palestinians to file charges against Israel for war crimes.

Abbas’s move came after his disappointment when a UN Security Council draft resolution calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state and an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza by late 2017 was blocked. Only eight members of the 15-strong Security Council voted for the resolution. The US and Australia opposed it while the UK government, ignoring Parliament’s overwhelmingly vote for Palestinian statehood, once again disgraced itself – and British citizens – by withholding support for Palestinian freedom and abstaining.

Netanyahu on that occasion said the resolution should be rejected: “What we need is direct negotiations and not dictated terms…” as if the world wasn’t already exasperated with negotiations made futile by Israel’s dictated terms.

Israel’s US State Department spokesmen

A US State Department spokesman, Jeff Rathke, said that the resolution “sets arbitrary deadlines for reaching a peace agreement and for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, and those are more likely to curtail useful negotiations than to bring them to a successful conclusion”. There have never been any negotiations that could be described as useful and Israel’s withdrawal has been required by numerous UN resolutions which the US, perversely, has helped the Tel Aviv regime to defy.

And Netanyahu’s insistence that Israel cannot accept an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and intends maintaining military control over the territory surely tells even the dimmest in the State Department that negotiations are pointless and justice (and therefore peace) can only be delivered by implementing international law.

So has the State Department anything intelligent to say? Apparently not. When it came to the Palestinians’ application to the ICC, US State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said the United States strongly opposed the move and warned it would be “counterproductive and do nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state. It will badly damage the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”

In case he hadn’t noticed, the atmosphere is wrecked beyond repair and has been for a long time.

So why is Vasquez annoying us with this claptrap? He describes himself on his LinkedIn page as a “hard-charging, take no prisoners communications professional who is highly skilled in strategic and tactical communications with an emphasis on both proactive affirmative messaging and crisis rapid response.” That says it all: another playground loudmouth with no experience, it would seem, outside the hothouse of the US Department of State and law school, yet given the dizzy and seriously responsible rank of senior advisor on Middle East affairs. Again, you couldn’t make it up.

Does Vasquez have any concept of what a just peace would look like in the Holy Land? Does he really think that successive Israeli governments ever wanted a just peace with Christian and Muslim Palestinians? He and his State Department buddies should either produce the evidence or drop their pain-in-the-ass “affirmative messaging”.

Is the ICC actually “fit for purpose”?

Few people feel confident that the ICC will deal justly with the Palestinians’ long struggle for peace and self-determination. The court must nevertheless be properly tested before it can be written off as corrupted and not fit for purpose. The very process of testing will amplify the Palestinians’ case, focus world opinion and mobilise action to isolate Israel. It might even act as catalyst to bring about a drastic overhaul of the UN, which is now a major embarrassment to the world’s civilised nations.

Abbas could, and should, have gone to the ICC in 2012 when the UN General Assembly recognised “Palestine” in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem as a non-member observer state. This upgrade made it possible to apply for ICC jurisdiction in Palestine. But the quislings dragged their feet, preferring to engage in more time-wasting, US-brokered negotiations under cover of which Israel openly seized more land.

Abbas’s ceaseless demands that the UN and the international community intervene to end the occupation and the war crimes were hardly realistic when he had not even attempted to use the tools available to him first. If he’d acted promptly the most recent land grabs and other atrocities, including the slaughter in Gaza last summer, would probably not have happened.

Having finally joined, does Abbas have his charges against Israel prepared and ready to bring to the court? And does all this signify a bright start to the New Year for Palestinians?

Only if the shadowy grey suits of the Palestine Liberation Organisation can pluck up courage to really stick the boot in.

Osamah Khalil, Professor of US and Middle East history at Syracuse University, remarked that joining the ICC is “only meaningful if Abbas actually uses it to hold Israel accountable for its repeated violations of international law and Palestinian rights.

“Otherwise, it will be little more than a symbolic gesture that will not change Israel’s behaviour or force Washington to engage in a meaningful way.

Print Friendly