“I will gather all and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to My inheritance, My people Israel, because they scattered My people among the and divided up My land.” (Joel 3:2)
Hopes of a long-term solution for peace between Palestinians and Israelis seemed more distant last week after Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that the so-called “State of Palestine” would join the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1.
The application submitted by Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC over actions within the disputed territories extending back to June 13, 2014—a day after the Hamas abduction and murder of three Israeli teens, thereby averting prosecution for this war crime under the Rome Statute.
The June 12 crime was the gateway to the Gaza rocket escalation and response from Israel. (Elder of Ziyon)
It isn’t the only UN action skirting the June 12 murders. William Schabas, Chair of the 3-member UN Committee investigating Israel’s activity in the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict (well-known for his anti-Israel and anti-Netanyahu bias) also chose to study Israel’s actions from June 13, without the context of the abduction of the three teens: Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach.
The announcement by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on January 6 prompted an objection from the US State Department, which stated that Palestine was ineligible to join.
“The States does not believe that the state of Palestine qualifies as a sovereign state and doesn’t recognize it as such and does not believe that it is eligible to accede to the Rome statute,” said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki. (Israel HaYom)
On Friday, key members of the US Senate warned the PA that its decision, which they termed “deplorable” and “counterproductive,” would be “met with a strong response.”
“Existing US law makes clear that if the Palestinians initiate an ICC judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, all economic assistance to the PA must end,” Senators Lindsey Graham, Robert Menendez, Chuck Schumer, and Mark Kirk said in a statement. “In light of this legal requirement, Congress will reassess its support for assistance to the PA and seek additional ways to make clear to President Abbas that we strongly oppose his efforts to seek membership in the ICC.” (JPost)
While the US is not an ICC member, it does carry a degree of influence with its long-term support for the court and the ICC’s legal actions against international war criminals.
With formal Palestinian acceptance of the ICC’s retroactive jurisdiction, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda could choose to examine alleged war crimes in the territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza—areas the PA desires for the future “state of Palestine,” despite the failed statehood bid at the General Assembly on December 31, 2014.