The state of Palestine today becomes a member of the International Criminal Court. This has a practical significance beyond the additional political pressure it piles on Israel. It means that in future Israelis will be liable to the jurisdiction of the court for crimes committed on Palestinian territory, despite Israel’s refusal to sign up to the court along with that other international rogue state, the United States of America.
In the case of the murders on the Mavi Marmara, the Court ruled that the scale of the incident did not reach the bar required for the Court’s jurisdiction – that it does not try war crimes which are individual acts. However it will be impossible to argue that at the next mass Israeli killing in Gaza, or even at the next large scale seizure of territory for Israeli settlements.
One of the many disgraces of neo-con government in the UK is the existence of legislation passed by the UK parliament specifically to allow Israeli war criminals to visit the UK without fear of arrest. That however will be overridden by Britain’s obligation to detain and hand over persons indicted by the International Criminal Court. Today’s apparently small step could change the atmosphere for the arrogant Israeli elite in a fundamental way. They will no longer be able to massacre hundreds of Palestinian women and children whenever they feel it boosts their cause, without some concern about personal consequences.
With the prospect of a deal bringing Iran back into the international community also appearing bright, we can be allowed a rare moment of optimism.