The Palestinian Authority in the past two years has lodged dozens of complaints with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague over the Jewish state’s behavior, most recently calling the court’s attention to the approval of 650 new housing units for a village north of Jerusalem. In these instances, Israel has responded with what it terms “informal cooperation,” in which its lawyers meet with court officials to try to convince them that the charges are bogus. Avi Bell argues that this is the wrong approach, and that Jerusalem should instead imitate the U.S., which has successfully stymied equally bogus attempts to prosecute it:
The American strategy [involves] a complete refusal to cooperate with the ICC, anchored in U.S. legislation; a campaign to delegitimize the ICC . . . as an undemocratic, unaccountable, illegitimate institution that endangers the sovereignty of the United States and the constitutional rights of its citizens; and concrete threats against the ICC, beginning with diplomatic and economic sanctions . . . and ending in a threat to liberate Americans with force should they be arrested at the request of the ICC.
The ICC prosecutor, [meanwhile], who has already surrendered to Palestinian demands and opened a preliminary investigation against Israeli “criminals,” can be expected to request permission from the ICC judges to open a full investigation. . . . Israeli lawyers tasked by the government with dealing with the ICC challenge are convinced that legal responses that failed everywhere else in the world will suddenly come to their country’s aid.
Worst of all, these lawyers are blocking Israeli policy actions out of fear of future Palestinian complaints to the ICC. In doing so, they are encouraging the ICC to escalate its moves against an Israel that is proving weak and conciliatory. The ICC already has gathered enough complaints against Israelis; blocking further complaints cannot help, and is, at any rate, impossible. And it is important to remember that in nearly two decades of operation, the ICC has arrived at final and successful convictions in only two cases. A country that surrenders its national interests out of the fear of embarrassing criminal proceedings comes out at a loss.