How Israel Can Fight Back against the International Criminal Court

On Wednesday, the International Criminal Court (ICC)—following a highly dubious ruling extending its jurisdiction to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip—announced that it will launch an investigation into supposed war crimes committed in those territories since 2014. Given the way in which the body has handled this issue so far, Jerusalem can expect the resulting proceedings to pay little attention to either law or fact. Amnon Lord argues that the Jewish state must respond not by trying to prove its innocence legally, but by going on the diplomatic offensive:

If legal officials do have a role [in responding to the investigation], from this point forward it should be in preparing the legal tools to buttress the political fight on the international stage. This means that . . . the relevant legal experts must prepare cases exhibiting the despicable record of senior Palestinian Authority officials who had a hand in terror. These cases need to be exposed in the international arena and the media. Beyond this, Israel must not cooperate with the ICC, whose authority it doesn’t recognize and of which it isn’t a member.

We mustn’t repeat the mistake of a few years ago when Israel allowed ICC officials into the country to explain Israel’s position on the matter. The ICC, in any event, apparently won’t require any investigations on the ground. Palestinian and Israeli or international organizations, or the Palestinian Authority itself, can submit material to the ICC.

[W]hen the indictments do arrive, . . . the accused individuals will never appear before the court, and it won’t be possible to try them in absentia. The movement of Israeli officials in certain countries will become a permanent hassle, but a tolerable one. What will happen is that the process will open the gates of endless persecution by the international left, the Palestinians, and their helpers in Israel. Anti-Semitism will rise, and along with it Israelis’ sense of being under siege.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: ICC, Israel diplomacy, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood