Palestine Can Now Join the International Criminal Court 161


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.


161 thoughts on “Palestine Can Now Join the International Criminal Court

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  • Quelcrime

    Libya is not on that list of States Parties, yet the ICC had no problem indicting Libyans for things they allegedly did in Libya to Libyans. So why is it necessary for Palestine to sign up in order for the ICC to take an interest in goings-on in Palestine?

    If the ICC were a judicial body it would be indicting NATO commanders and personnel for bombing TV studios etc. It’s a political body whose primary purpose is assisting in the re-colonisation of Africa.

    If Palestine could sign up to the International Court of Justice, now that would be something to see.

  • Quelcrime

    I paid some attention to the functioning of the ICTY, an atrocious monstrosity of which Stalin would have been proud, and as far as I can see the same problem is repeated at the ICC; the prosecutors are a part of the court rather than being separate, which gives them an impossible advantage over the defence. In the ICTY the judges behave as if they are in fact simply an extension of the prosecutors’ office.
    .
    The problem with these ‘courts’, which is blatantly in evidence at the ICTY, which came up again in the Lockerbie trial, and which I cannot believe is not equally present at the ICC, is that in high profile cases the judges are unable to resist political interference. Thus, for example, Saif al-Islam al-Gadaffi, though he did nothing more than call on the Libyan people to resist the rebellion which threatened their state, would certainly be convicted, or if conviction was too embarrassing in the face of the evidence, bumped off before the case could be finished like poor old Milosevic. The supposed justification for NATO’s latest exhibition of their supreme international criminality is precisely that Saif and his Dad were devilish criminals bumping off lots of Libyans. If Saif were acquitted it follows that Barry, Nic and Bomber Dave would have to be next in the dock.

  • mike cobley

    “And why should anyone give 2 farthings about the UN or the Stature of Rome?”
    .
    Is that Ghengis Khan that lwtc is channelling?

  • Janus

    How frustrating all this is for those zionist cartographers intent on wiping Palestine off the map.

  • craig Post author

    LWTC247 and Quelctime

    I think you need to think deeper. We saw a monstrous abuse of international institutions during the Bush/Blair years, similar to what Hitler and Mussolini did to the League of Nations.

    The altenrative is either to strengthen and improve international law and international institutions, or accpet that might is right. I go for the former.

    You might as well argue “why does Palestine want to join the UN?”. Diplomacy is the only chance for Palestinians. They can’t win by force. Your shallow-minded rejection of the ways to fight this diplomatic battle is pointless and nihilistic.

  • Stephen

    “it would reinforce the fact that Palestine is a better international citizen with more moral legitimacy than Israel.”

    This is not a fact but a view. My view is that both Israel and Palestine have moral legitimacy and trying to assert that one has more than the other will actually make no contribution to peace or a settlement.

  • Eddie-G

    A little puzzled on the jurisdiction point – Bashir has been indicted by the ICC, yet Sudan is not a signatory. Is that because there are certain crimes and circumstances where universal jurisdiction applies, but if so, any reason they can’t already apply wrt Palestine?

  • craig Post author

    Wrong there Stephen. If I were to say “Nelson Mandela possesses great moral authority”, that is a fact. It is only not a fact if you hold the view that facts are only corporeal. But Nelson Mandela’s moral authority, I would contend, is a fact measurable by the tools of social science.

    The Unesco vote was a reasonable test of the relative moral authority of Israel and Palestine. Moral authority also affects popular opinion and is to a certain extent measurable by it. Israel’s moral authority have been undermined by its attack on the Mavi Marmara, Operation Cast Lead, the pitilessness of its blockade, its treatment of its large Arab minority – I could go on.

  • craig Post author

    Eddie-G

    I think the answer probably lies inarticles 13 and 14 on referral of crimes by states parties. Palestine would become a state party and able to refer.

  • Quelcrime

    Craig

    Your shallow-minded rejection of the ways to fight this diplomatic battle

    I’m not rejecting anything (beyond the notion that the ICC is an independent court) – I just don’t see how Palestine joining the list of States Parties will somehow enable the ICC to pay more attention to crimes committed in Palestine. You haven’t answered my main point – if the ICC needs Palestine to sign up before it can look at things that happen there, how is it that it didn’t need Libya to sign up before indicting people for things they supposedly did in Libya? And if it doesn’t need Palestine to sign up before taking an interest in events in Palestine, well, it hasn’t taken much interest yet, has it?

    I’m all for Palestine joining international bodies. (And Taiwan for that matter, though that’s a different story)

  • ingo

    “My view is that both Israel and Palestine have moral legitimacy and trying to assert that one has more than the other will actually make no contribution to peace or a settlement”.

    Stephen, you are asserting a two state solution, you are calling one israel, the other Palestine. Such assertion has no moral legitimacy as it is as yet merely a discussion point between the two.
    By releasing Marwan Barghouti, and Mr. Murphy should really start persuading his FoI collegues now, he’s a uniter and kinpin between the two factions, negotiations could re start soon.
    A re-start of negotiations is vitally necessarry for any next steps and the newly accepted Unesco membership will help.
    A denouncement of the prevailing rethoric, prescribing all Palestinians as terrorist, might also help.

  • Quelcrime

    Oh, sorry, missed Eddie’s point and your reply.

    So, the point is that Palestine could refer cases to the court. There are remarkably few Muslim countries signed up. Perhaps you have a point. I can’t see the ICC paying any attention though.

  • mary

    Stephen 1st November 2011
    “it would reinforce the fact that Palestine is a better international citizen with more moral legitimacy than Israel.”

    This is not a fact but a view. My view is that both Israel and Palestine have moral legitimacy and trying to assert that one has more than the other will actually make no contribution to peace or a settlement.
    ~~~~
    and from the previous thread

    Stephen 1st November 2011
    It was covered on the BBC 10 o’clock news on BBC in a fair amount of detail.
    ~~~~

    Does anyone else detect a slant for the status quo?

  • Stephen

    No Craig – You were comparing Israel and Palestine – not Israel with Nelson Mandela. UNESCO is not the court of general public opinion, where you have judged Nelson Mandela, as you know very well. You have also moved on from moral legitimacy to moral authority. I could follow you logic and say that it is a fact that the Palestinians have hardly any moral authority among Jews living in Israel – but it would be pointless to do so.

  • Stephen

    Mary

    The slant is for intellectual honesty (and for a peaceful between Israel and Palestine). You should try it some time.

  • Philip Thompson

    International law can operate beyond the area of war crimes that you emphasise.
    If Palestine were also to sign up the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea then it might be able to put up some resistance to the steady erosion of fishing rights that have been imposed on those living in Gaza.
    The fishing area in the sea was agreed in 1994 to cover an area of 20 miles from the coast by the Jericho agreement following the Oslo accords. It has subsequently been unilaterally reduced to 12 miles then 6 miles and since 2008 to 3 miles. Even in this limited space Israeli gunboats often operate aggressively.

  • Quelcrime

    As both the USA and Israel refuse to join the ICC because of their desire to commit war crimes with impunity

    Hm. If joining the court gives a state the right to submit cases for the prosecutor to consider, but failing to join doesn’t provide immunity for its citizens, then, er, what’s your point here?

    To me a very clear indictment of the ICC is the way their chief prosecutor shamelessly repeated to the media the obvious fabrication about Gadaffi giving his soldiers viagra to help them get it up when raping the dollybirds of Benghazi.

  • craig Post author

    Philip,

    Thanks and an important point. I did actually draft and negotiate key parts of the Protocol on deep seabed mining that allowed UNCLOS to enter into force…

  • mary

    Philip Well said. Here is an American’s view of the daily oppression.
    .
    http://notesfrombehindtheblockade.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/fishing-in-gaza-n
    o-day-at-the-beach/
    .
    About notesfrombehindtheblockade
    I’m a civil rights attorney currently living in the Gaza Strip. It can be hard for those living outside the blockade to understand what life is like here in Gaza. I hope this blog will provide a small window into life here, at least through the eyes of a foreigner. Thank you for visiting.

  • Stephen

    Ingo

    When I need your comments on the moral legitimacy of my views I shall ask for them. In the meantime I shall happily carry on committing thought crime.

    And of course both parties would have to agree to a two state solution.

  • Komodo

    “The slant is for intellectual honesty (and for a peaceful (sic) between Israel and Palestine). You should try it some time.” (Stephen)

    Intellectual honesty requires at least a minimal intellect. And if you have failed to notice that the Israeli policy on Palestine involves the progressive theft of Palestinian property until the region between the Jordan and the Med is wholly devoted to a Jewish, non-secular state, in which any non-Jews have inferior privileges; if you haven’t noticed, over the last 40 years, that Israel is supremely uninterested in peace until the Palestinian population is displaced elsewhere, and probably not then (they are now planning to build ICBM’s to carry their immune-from-scrutiny nukes up to 4000Km)…if you haven’t got that yet, your claim to an intellect fails completely, and with it any pretensions you may have to intellectual honesty.

  • Stephen

    Mary

    Could you please tell me when I have ever tried to defend the crimes and abuses committed by the Israeli state – as you seem to be inferring???

    It is quite possible to see that their are rights and wrongs on both side of the argument – and to believe that forming a view on the superiority of either side will contribute nothing to peace or a settlement.

  • tfs

    Isn’t it funny that the biggest, most slovenly way of protesting corporate theft etc is to reach into ones pockets and choose to not spend it on certain products.

    Wasn’t it MLK, who suggested not buying Coke Cola, seems a pretty good suggestion to me……pick a product…..

  • Stephen

    Komodo

    The missing word was “settlement”.

    One side of “intellect” is being capable of recognising that others with “intellect” may have different views from your own, and being able to discern between facts and opinions.

    Don’t you understand that there are intelligent Israelis who would disagree with your account (and not a few intelligent Palestinians either)as to Israel’s behaviour and intentions, who at the same time recognise and condemn the excesses and abuses of their state. Go and look at the Haaretz website if you don’t believe me.

  • Quelcrime

    I’ve been reading through part of the Statute of Rome. Perhaps I should have done that before making any comments here. If I haven’t misunderstood it, I think these points make things clearer –
    .
    -If a national of a State Party is accused of a crime, the court has jurisdiction.
    .
    -If a crime takes place on the territory of a State Party, the court has jurisdiction.
    .
    -If the case is referred to the Prosecutor by the UN Security Council, the court has jurisdiction.
    .
    The second point above is relevant to Palestine; the third presumably explains the Bashir and Gadaffi cases. However, might there not be questions about where precisely is Palestinian territory?

  • john macadam

    At least the Palestinians are not compelled, by law, to fund the BBC> In Scotland we are, and receive the same level of propaganda. During the last election the BBC quoted Ed Milliband saying that Independence [for Scotland] would be bad. No follow up of Ed! How? Why? For whom?, no attempt to probe his reasoning and uncover flaws. Just – Labour says.
    And we must pay to subsidise these attempts to pervert our democracy

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