The International Criminal Court has refused to submit to an apparent concerted international political campaign to attack Israel over its rights, territory and even existence, stating today that “Palestine” doesn’t qualify as a “state” to bring a complaint over the confrontations in Gaza in recent years.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC rejected claims that accused Israel of war crimes of the Gaza conflict It noted that while “Palestine” has been recognized as a state in bilateral relations by more than 130 governments and by certain international organizations, “the current status granted to Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly is that of ‘observer,’ not as a ‘non-member state.’”
The court’s report today said “the office understands that on 23 September 2011, Palestine submitted an application for admission to the United Nations as a member state in accordance with article 4(2) of the United Nations Charter, but the Security Council has not yet made a recommendation in this regard.”
Therefore, the court said, “It is for the relevant bodies at the United Nations or the Assembly of States parties to make the legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a state for the purpose of … enabling the exercise of jurisdiction by the court.”
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, called it a “major victory for Israel in the international arena and a sound defeat for the unfounded ‘lawfare’ attack leveled against Israel.”
Its European counterpart, the European Center for Law and Justice, had argued the case.
“What’s clear is that this legal assault against Israel not only lacked jurisdiction, but amounted to nothing more than an international campaign to discredit and demonize Israel,” said Sekulow. “We applaud the findings of the Office of the Prosecutor, which paralleled our arguments in defense of Israel.
Sekulow said the decision “closes the case, removes it from the court’s docket, and brings finality to this issue, ending a flawed attempt to use the international legal system in an effort to wrongly punish Israel before the international community.”
Three years ago, the Palestinian Authority tried to lodge a declaration that accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC for “acts committed on the territory of Palesteine since 1 July 2002.”
For three years, the issue was under investigation.
The European Center for Law and Justice filed documents arguing that Palestine did not meet the international standard for statehood, and the ECLJ argued before the ICC on the issue.
The goal of the complaint apparently had been a permanent war crimes tribunal to investigate Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip starting at the end of 2008.
Shawan Jabarin, director of al-Haq, a Palestinian rights group lobbying against Israel, told the Associated Press: “There’s no domestic remedy for Palestinians to seek justice here. There’s nothing before Palestinians except to search for justice outside. The most important body for us was the ICC.”
The conflict also had been the subject of a report from South African judge Richard Goldstone, whose U.N.-sponsored report originally blasted Israel and its actions in the Gaza conflict. The report was endorsed by the U.N. General Assembly, but Goldstone himself later pulled back his conclusions.
In the Washington Post he later wrote, “We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission.
“If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,” he said.
“Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and ‘possibly crimes against humanity’ by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying – its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets,” he explained. “The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated … they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”
Palestinians had been hoping to establish a legal framework with which to sue the Jewish state for deaths and damages from the conflict.
Judge Richard Goldstone
Robert Ash, senior litigation counsel for the ACLJ, earlier said there was a danger from the misinformation in the Goldstone report.
“The Goldstone Report makes a mockery of objective fact-finding,” Ash said when it came out. “Instead of commending Israel for its efforts to avoid the Gaza conflict in the first place and then to avoid civilian casualties once the war began, the Goldstone Report blames Israel and gives a pass to Hamas and its terrorist allies who triggered the conflict.
“By exonerating Hamas from its responsibility for causing the war and for placing Palestinian civilians at risk, the Goldstone Report provides Hamas terrorists with a propaganda victory which encourages them to try the same thing again,” he warned.
In another case, the ICC is deliberating about Israel’s decision to fend off a flotilla that aimed to break a blockade of arms shipments into Gaza.