Why the International Criminal Court Should Stay Out of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Jan. 14 2021

Last spring, the International Criminal Court (ICC) determined that it has jurisdiction over Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and part of Jerusalem, although Israel is not a party to the Rome Statue that created the court, and although the “state of Palestine,” which has brought the underlying complaint, does not exist. Another ICC report calls for a full investigation of the Jewish state. Nicholas Rostow explains why nothing good will come from these cases, or from the court’s inevitable decision to involve itself further in the prosecution of Israeli leaders and soldiers:

Palestinian statehood and territory are among the most important, undecided questions to be determined by agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. If the ICC concludes that it has jurisdiction over Israeli actions, then the court would find itself embroiled in one of today’s longest running and most difficult conflicts. The consequences are not foreseeable, except to say that they will be serious and severe.

If the ICC takes up the question of whether aggression has occurred, it will be looking at high-level government decisions, not simply troops engaged in combat (although getting to the bottom of what exactly happens in battle is no easy task). It also will be making a determination of where Israel’s boundaries lie.

And unlike the U.S., which may also face a spurious ICC investigation, Israel cannot impose severe costs on those who would prosecute its citizens. Moreover, writes Rostow, the underlying premise of the investigation is even more wrongheaded:

In the nearly twenty years of its existence, the ICC has not persuaded the world’s most powerful states to join the Rome Statute. Their position has little to do with their view of accountability or ending cultures of “impunity,” a favorite term in UN circles. Their concern has to do with the inescapable political character of decisions about jurisdiction and a desire to protect themselves from unwanted intrusions into their national affairs.

We must anticipate that the ICC will decide to exercise jurisdiction over actions by Israel and the United States as requested by the Palestinians and the Afghan government, respectively. It is unlikely that Americans will suffer as a result. It is entirely likely, however, that Israel, already subject to constant questioning of its legitimacy as a state, will face even greater difficulty than it does presently to reach peace with the Palestinian Authority. The ICC cannot contribute to the achievement of that goal.

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Read more at Justice

More about: ICC, International Law, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia