Let the Investigation Begin: The International Criminal Court, Israel and the Palestinian Territories – Global Research


09-02-21 10:26:00,

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International tribunals tend to be praised, in principle, by those they avoid investigating.  Once interest shifts to those parties, such bodies become the subject of accusations: bias, politicisation, crude arbitrariness.  The United States, whose legal and political personnel have expended vast resources on the machinery of international courts and jurisprudence, remains cold to the International Criminal Court.  The sceptics have tended to win out in Washington, restraining any consent to its jurisdiction. 

The Trump administration made a point of imposing sanctions on court staff, specifically targeting chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, whose entry visa to the US was revoked.  The moves were instigated in response to investigative efforts by the prosecutor into the alleged commission of war crimes by US, Taliban and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. 

Israel has also kept a witheringly hostile eye towards the activities of the ICC.  The acceptance by Palestinian authorities in 2015 of the court’s jurisdiction heralded the next troubling step in scrutinising Israeli actions in the occupied territories.  

In December 2019, Bensouda intimated that there was “a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip”.  Of interest was the 2014 Israel-Hamas conflict, Israel’s policy of settlements in occupied territory and aggressive responses to protests on the Gaza-Israeli border starting in March 2018. 

Often forgotten by various critics of the court is that Bensouda did not exclusively target the activities of the Israeli Defence Forces; she also included armed Palestinian groups as potential perpetrators of such crimes.  Her concerns were duly formalised in an application to the court as to whether such matters fell within the court’s jurisdiction.  Once resolved, an investigation could commence.

To the ICC pretrial chamber, she submitted “that the Court’s territorial jurisdiction extends to Palestinian territory occupied by Israel during the Six-Day war in June 1967, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.”  She admitted that the Occupied Palestinian Territory had a “unique history” with the issue of Palestinian statehood having never been definitively resolved. 

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