Palestinians Commence Action against Israel at International Criminal Court at The Hague
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki has commenced action against Israel in the International Criminal Court at The Hague on Tuesday with submission of a “referral” to ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The Palestinians are demanding “immediate investigation” into what they allege are “Israeli crimes” against the Palestinian people. The scope of allegations, which were filed in the name of “the state of Palestine,” include Israeli policies in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. Although the ICC does not have jurisdiction over Israel because it is not a member-state of the court, the ICC could, nevertheless, issue indictments against individual high-ranking Israeli government officials or senior army officers, making international travel a virtual impossibility for those named in indictments. Much of the case against Israel depends upon defining “occupation” and whether it can convince the court of its position: that because the West Bank was conquered from Jordan and the Gaza Strip Egypt and there was never a sovereign state of Palestine from which the land was taken the principles attached to occupation do not apply. To date, though, the only international body to deal with the issue is a 2004 advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice calling Israeli post-1967 communities “illegal.” The Palestinian use of the ICC is also a political move decried by both Israel and the United States as a disruptive unilateral move that harms the ongoing peace process. But the Palestinians have removed themselves from all US-led initiatives because of President Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.