The ICC’s Israel Decision Is Bad for Everyone but Mahmoud Abbas and His Cronies

Feb. 17 2021

In a recent ruling extending its own jurisdiction on flimsy legal grounds, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has given its prosecutor a green light to pursue an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Hamas and the state of Israel—namely, the launching of rockets and explosive devices at civilians by the former and the building of houses by the latter. Richard Kemp puts the decision in context, and examines its implications:

The ICC has long had its sights on what it no doubt considers an unholy trinity: Israel, the U.S., and Britain. [The outgoing chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda], failed to get her way with the U.S. and the UK. . . . So for the time being, Israel remains the prize.

The effects of the ICC’s decision will be profound. This is only the end of the beginning. Unless halted, investigations into spurious allegations of war crimes will go on for years, perhaps decades, creating a global bonanza for all who hate Israel, [and will be] utilized to stir up hatred and violence against Israelis and Jews everywhere.

But the most detrimental effect of the ICC’s decision will be felt by the Palestinian people who, for decades, have been abused as political pawns by their leaders and who would be the greatest beneficiaries of any peace agreement with Israel. The ICC’s ruling makes such a deal even more remote today.

[There] was an opportunity for creative diplomacy by the Biden administration, [by], on the one hand, encouraging further progress through the Abraham Accords while on the other restoring ties with the Palestinians after their refusal of any relationship with the hated President Trump. . . . Enter the ICC pre-trial chamber, throwing a lifeline to [the Palestinian Authority president] Abbas.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: ICC, International Law, Mahmoud Abbas, U.S. Foreign policy, United Kingdom

Saudi Arabia Should Open Its Doors to Israeli—and Palestinian—Pilgrims

On the evening of June 26 the annual period of the Hajj begins, during which Muslims from all over the world visit Mecca and perform prescribed religious rituals. Because of the de-jure state of war between Saudi Arabia and the Jewish state, Israeli Muslim pilgrims—who usually number about 6,000—must take a circuitous (and often costly) route via a third country. The same is true for Palestinians. Mark Dubowitz and Tzvi Kahn, writing in the Saudi paper Arab News, urge Riyadh to reconsider its policy:

[I]f the kingdom now withholds consent for direct flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia, it would be a setback for those normalization efforts, not merely a continuation of the status quo. It is hard to see what the Saudis would gain from that.

One way to support the arrangement would be to include Palestinians in the deal. Israel might also consider earmarking its southern Ramon Airport for the flights. After all, Ramon is significantly closer to the kingdom than Ben-Gurion Airport, making for cheaper routes. Its seclusion from Israeli population centers would also help Israeli efforts to monitor outgoing passengers and incoming flights for security purposes.

A pilot program that ran between August and October proved promising, with dozens of Palestinians from the West Bank traveling back and forth from Ramon to Cyprus and Turkey. This program proceeded over the objections of the Palestinian Authority, which fears being sidelined by such accommodations. Jordan, too, has reason to be concerned about the loss of Palestinian passenger dinars at Amman’s airports.

But Palestinians deserve easier travel. Since Israel is willing to be magnanimous in this regard, Saudi Arabia can certainly follow suit by allowing Ramon to be the springboard for direct Hajj flights for Palestinian and Israeli Muslims alike. And that would be a net positive for efforts to normalize ties between [Jerusalem] and Riyadh.

Read more at Arab News

More about: Israel-Arab relations, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia