The ICC’s Misguided Declaration of Palestinian Statehood

By opening an investigation into the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor has accepted that there is, in fact, a Palestinian state. Granting such recognition to “Palestine,” writes Eugene Kontorovich, flies in the face of international law and the ICC’s own founding documents:

[T]he prosecutor did not actually determine that Palestine qualifies as a “state” under the well-established legal definitions of the term. Rather, she said that the UN General Assembly’s vote in 2012 to call Palestine a “non-member state” is dispositive of the question. In short, she substituted the determination of the General Assembly for her own. The General Assembly is not a judicial body, but a political one. Its determinations are political, not legal. It also has no power under the UN Charter to create or recognize states. . . .

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the prosecutor has deferred to judgments of the General Assembly in lieu of legal analysis. Even more unhappily, the other recent occasion also involved Israel, and the prosecutor grabbed onto General Assembly resolutions to find an “occupation” where it could not be said to exist under normative international law, including International Court of Justice precedents. An Office of the Prosecutor that merely echoes the General Assembly is in danger of becoming simply another UN Human Rights Council.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: ICC, Lawfare, Palestinian statehood, United Nations

The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas