US and Israel: Sitting on a Legal Time Bomb
By Amaresh Misra
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has signed the Rome Statute, the founding treaty to join the International Criminal Court, a day after the UNSC failed to adopt the Arab coalition’s bid for the creation of a Palestinian state.
The Palestinian Authority could also schedule a date for applying to join the International Criminal Court and other international agencies, negotiator Saeb Erekat said, adding that officials would hold a”very serious meeting” on Wednesday.
“There will be no more waiting, no more hesitation, no more slowdown,” Erekat said. “We are going to meet and make decisions.”
The Rome Statute is the ICC’s founding document. With Palestine becoming party to it, the International Court would have a free hand in assessing all alleged war crimes committed on Palestinian territory.
It should be noted that Israel isn’t a ICC member; but Palestine is recognized by the UN as literally, a `State in waiting’, a State under Israeli occupation; only Independent States can be signatories to the Rome Statute; the very fact that Palestine has been allowed to sign the Statute, makes its recognition as a State a fact, even though full formalities of becoming a State might be pending.
Now, in the eyes of ICC, Palestine is a State; and as a State, Palestine has the right to file complaint against Israel, as another State, that has committed war crimes against its citizens.
This is the legal position Israel is not understanding, which even America is overlooking–but this is a legal time bomb that will blow-up in the face of the US-Israel alliance.
Palestine can now easily ask ICC to investigate Israel as a war criminal.
“It is thus most regrettable that the Security Council remains paralyzed,” permanent observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour said, but Palestine “must now consider its next steps.”
According to Mansour, at UN Security Council it was time to end the “abhorrent Israeli occupation and impunity that has brought our people so much suffering.”
The United States has called the Palestinian decision “an escalatory step” saying it “will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people.”
“Actions like this are not the answer,” spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened “steps in response” to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas approaching the International Criminal Court.
Netanyahu also pledged to protect Israeli soldiers from any potential prosecution.
The draft resolution on Palestinian statehood gathered only eight votes in favor, so it was automatically defeated. The US still used its veto power and voted against the resolution. Another veto power state, the UK, along with Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea and Rwanda, abstained from the vote.
The eight votes in favor included France, Russia and China.
The resolution gave 12 months for a “just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which it regards as the creation of a “sovereign and viable” Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, as well as the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the occupied territory by 2017.
In 2012, the UN General Assembly upgraded Palestine from an “observer entity” to a “non-member observer state.”
Palestinian authorities said that if resolution wasn’t passed by UN, they will ask for applying to join international organizations as Palestinian people say they are willing to seek justice for crimes against humanity as well as war crimes being perpetrated against them by Israel.
Abbas said last Tuesday his administration would “no longer deal” with Israel if the resolution were to fail.
“If the Arab-Palestinian initiative submitted to the Security Council to put an end to [Israeli] occupation doesn’t pass, we will be forced to take the necessary political and legal decisions,” he said.
Israeli authorities said they are “satisfied” with the failure of the Palestinian statehood bid at UN Security Council.
“Every Israeli who wants peace with our neighbors can only be satisfied with the results of this vote,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzahi HaNegbi told public radio.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that Moscow regrets that the resolution on Palestinian statehood bid wasn’t approved “amid serious deterioration in crisis settlement in the Middle East.”
Editor’s Note: Amaresh Misra is the Editor-in-Chief, Medhaj News, where this commentary originally appeared. It is reprinted here with permission.