Advancing a Free Society

Palestinians eye a can of courtroom worms

Friday, September 23, 2011

One interesting question raised by the Palestinian statehood initiative at the United Nations is how this will affect the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in skirmishes between the Israelis and the Palestinians in Gaza and in other conflict zones. Some assert that triggering ICC prosecutions of Israeli soldiers and government officials for war crimes is a primary motive behind Palestine’s push for statehood. But as is often the case in the Middle East, things are more complicated than they appear.

The Palestinian Authority has been pounding on the ICC prosecutors door since January 2009, trying in vain to trigger an investigation into Israel’s alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during “Operation Cast Lead” in December 2008. The prosecutor of the ICCinitially responded that, because Israel is not a party to the court and thePalestinian Authority is not a state, he had no jurisdiction to investigate. But a few weeks later, he reconsidered, and said he would look more carefully at whether the PA might have enough earmarks of a state to bring an ICC claim.

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(photo credit: Pam Junsay)