Membership in Interpol Gives the Palestinian Authority a Tool for Harassing Its Enemies

Last September, over U.S. objections, Interpol granted admission to the Palestinian Authority (PA)—in violation of the Oslo Accords. While the international law-enforcement body does not employ its own agents or officers, it allows member states to issue so-called Red Notices, which are requests for the arrest of specific individuals, and vaguer instruments known as “diffusions.” Ted Bromund examines the many ways the PA can exploit Interpol to harass Israelis and persecute internal enemies:

The PA sought membership [in Interpol] as part of its broader strategy of political and legal warfare against Israel. [Its] admission . . . further debases Interpol, . . . which is required by its constitution to focus exclusively on ordinary crime. It also reflects the fact that the world’s autocracies have learned that Interpol can be a valuable instrument of oppression and that the dominance historically enjoyed by the Western democracies in Interpol is fading. . . .

The most frequently cited risk of Palestinian membership in Interpol is that the PA will use Interpol’s channels to seek Red Notices on serving Israeli officials. When made public, Red Notices also have secondary effects through the international financial system, as well as through visa and passport systems. If Ramallah were to request such Red Notices, if Interpol issued them, and if Interpol member nations acted on them, Israeli officials would find themselves on trial, presumably for [alleged] war crimes or crimes against humanity, in the West Bank. This risk, [however,] though genuine, is not as immediate as it might appear. . . .

Palestinian membership in Interpol . . . poses a greater risk to private citizens who publicly support Israel, both in Israel and anywhere else around the world. The PA would face high barriers if it sought to publish a Red Notice on a serving Israeli official, but it would face much lower barriers if it alleged that a private citizen was part of a criminal conspiracy against [it]. It would still be difficult, verging on impossible, for the Palestinian Authority to extradite a private citizen to the West Bank, but the point of the Red Notice would not be to secure an extradition. It would be to harass Israel’s friends: the process is the punishment. . . .

[But] the most likely targets of abuse . . . are not Israeli officials or even friends of Israel. The most likely targets are in fact Palestinian opponents of the Palestinian Authority. The PA has already made clear its intention to target its political opponents. Immediately after the vote admitting it to Interpol, an aide to Mahmoud Abbas stated that “Mohammed Dahlan, Mohammed Rashid, and Walid Najab, [all rivals of Abbas], are going to be on top of the list” of individuals the PA will pursue through Interpol.

Among other measures, Bromund recommends that Washington withhold a portion of the PA’s funding for every year it remains an Interpol member, adopt a formal policy of refusing to honor any PA requests via Interpol, and remove the legal immunities that protect Interpol from civil and criminal prosecution in the U.S.

Read more at Heritage

More about: International Law, Israel & Zionism, Lawfare, Palestinian Authority, U.S. Foreign policy

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law