As predicted this morning, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed on to 20 international agreements on Wednesday, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a day after a bid for independence by 2017 failed at the United Nations Security Council. It is his intention to sue Israel for war crimes. But as the saying goes, Abbas should be careful what he wishes for--he might get it).
That's not just my opinion but the opinion of the Palestinian Authority's representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Ibrahim Khreisheh he was interviewed on the subject this past July:
But contrasting Israel's conduct during Operation Protective Edge to stop rocket fire from Gaza - in which Israeli forces always warn civilians before launching airstrikes - to the actions of Hamas and other armed groups, Ibrahim Khreisheh said any such move would surely backfire.
Noting concerns that Israel could launch legal offensives of its own against the PA should it sign up to the ICC, the presenter asked whether such a move would be realistic. The response was unequivocal.
"The missiles that are now being launched against Israel - each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets," said Khreisheh.
He went on to claim that Israel, too, was guilty of such crimes during the conflict, and also mentioned contested claims about the legality of Israeli building in Judea and Samaria.
But he maintained that human rights abuses by Palestinian terrorist groups were far worse - particularly when it came to harming civilians.
In order to launch an appeal to the ICC, Khreisheh said, all "Palestinian factions" would need to commit, in writing, to refrain from targeting Israeli civilians - something which none of them are likely to do.
In stark contrast, he noted how "many of our people in Gaza appeared on TV and said that the Israeli army warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment."
"In such a case, if someone is killed, the (international) law considers it a mistake rather than an intentional killing, because (the Israelis) followed the legal procedures," he explained.
"As for the missiles launched from our side - we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall or about operations we carry out"And that doesn't even include other terrorist attacks including the recent butchering of four rabbis in a Jerusalem synagogue.
In the end the move was made to appease those in the PA who wanted Abbas to join the court. Although threats will be made, and possibly even filed, it will be a very long time before the PA pushes this case to a trial. The Palestinian leadership is smarter than that. And some Palestinians are warning about the implications.
“There is no question mark as to what are the consequences, that there will be immediate American and Israeli financial sanctions,” said Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “Those sanctions will gradually become more and more crippling, and this could indeed be the beginning of the end of the P.A. They fully realize that.”Mr Shikaki may be right today the State Department uncharacteristically slapped the Palestinians' hands:
"We are deeply troubled by today’s Palestinian action regarding the ICC," Jeff Rathke, Director of the Office of Press Relations at the State Department, said in a statement. "It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people.""Deeply troubled" is Diplo-speak for really pissed off. The Israeli Prime Minister was not as diplomatic:
"Actions like this are not the answer," Rathke said, calling the latest action "badly damaging" and one of many that "undermine trust and create doubts about their commitment to a negotiated peace."
Israel has little to fear from the Palestinian Authority (PA) signing the Rome Statute to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated Wednesday night - and the PA has everything to lose.Like I said President Abbas made a move to protect himself politically, but in the end it may very well hurt himself and his people much more than it will hurt Israel.
"The one who should fear the International Criminal Court at the Hague is the Palestinian Authority, which is in a unity government with Hamas, a declared terrorist organization like ISIS that commits war crimes," Netanyahu stated.
"We will take steps in response and we will defend the soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world," he continued. "We will repel this latest effort to force diktats on us, just as we have repelled the Palestinian turn to the UN Security Council."