Palestine is now a state. Membership of the United Nations is not in international law a pre-condition of statehood, and indeed is not compulsory for states. The existence of states not members of the UN is recognised in international law, not least by the UN itself. Palestine has just joined UNESCO for example under a provision which allows states which are not members of the United Nations to join if they get qualified majority support – which Palestine overwhelmingly did.
So the UNESCO membership is crucial recognition of Palestine’s statehood, not an empty gesture. With this evidence of international acceptance, there is now absolutely no reason why Palestine cannot, instantly and without a vote, join the International Criminal Court. Palestine can now become a member of the International Criminal Court simply by submitting an instrument of accession to the Statute of Rome, and joining the list of states parties.
As both the USA and Israel refuse to join the ICC because of their desire to commit war crimes with impunity, acceding to the statute of Rome would not only confirm absolutely that Palestine is a state, it would reinforce the fact that Palestine is a better international citizen with more moral legitimacy than Israel.
There is an extremely crucial point here: if Palestine accedes to the Statute of Rome, under Article 12 of the Statute of Rome, the International Criminal Court would have jurisdiction over Israelis committing war crimes on Palestinian soil. Other states parties – including the UK – would be obliged by law to hand over indicted Israeli war criminals to the court at the Hague. This would be a massive blow to the Israeli propaganda and lobbying machine.
It would also be a huge chance for the International Criminal Court to redeem its reputation. It is widely believed, particularly in Africa, that the ICC is merely a tool of western domination and used against those that the NATO powers want it used against. That is a bit unfair on the court, who are dealing with the cases brought before them according to the statutes. Palestinian membership could give a chance for the court to assert its independence, and become a watershed for both Palestine and the ICC.