Thursday, January 01, 2015

Abbas Signs Rome Statute: Hold the Cheers

Abbas Signs Rome Statute: Hold the Cheers

by Stephen Lendman

On New Year's eve, Judas Palestinian president/longstanding Israeli collaborator Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Mandated to prosecute individuals for genocide and aggression. As well as crimes or war and against humanity.

It's largely an imperial tool. Controlled by US-dominated Western interests. Supporting wealth, power and privilege.

Targeting nations Washington opposes. Victims, not imperial perpetrators. Letting America and rogue NATO powers get away with mass murder and destruction. 

Ignoring Israel's worst crimes. In 2012, the Court rejected Palestine's bid to investigate its Cast Lead war crimes. Against 
Gaza. For spurious reasons.

Ignoring crimes Goldstone Commission members called "serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law (amounting) to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity."

Including willfully targeting noncombatant men, women and children. Murdering them in cold blood. 

Thousands killed or injured. Collectively punishing an entire population. Using disproportionate force. Causing extensive damage and loss of life.

The Commission cited "a justice crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action."

Urged referral to the International Criminal Court. Said "Israel('s) military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population." 

"The destruction of food supply installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential houses was the result of a deliberate and systematic policy which has made the daily process of living, and dignified living, more difficult for the civilian population."

"Repeatedly, the Israel Defense Forces failed to adequately distinguish between combatants and civilians, as the laws of war strictly require."

"Pursuing justice in this case is essential because no state or armed group should be above the law."

Failure to do so “will have a deeply corrosive effect on international justice, and reveal an unacceptable hypocrisy." 

"As a service to hundreds of civilians who needlessly died and for the equal application of international justice, the perpetrators of serious violations must be held to account."

On September 21, 2010, the UN Human Rights Council accused Israel of failing to distinguish "between civilians and civilian objects and military targets." 

"Both the loss of life and the damage to property were disproportionate to the harm suffered by Israel or any threatened harm. Israel's actions could not be justified as self-defense."

"The IDF was responsible for the crime of killing, wounding and terrorizing civilians (as well as) wonton(ly) destr(oying) property and that such destruction could not be justified on grounds of military necessity."

The HRC called IDF crimes so grave, "it was compelled to consider whether (genocide) had been committed." 

Israel "committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and, possibly genocide in the course of Operation Cast Lead."

Last summer's Operation Protective Edge was Cast Lead on steroids. Lasting 51 days. Turning large parts of Gaza to rubble.

Murdering about 2,200 Palestinians. Around 80% civilians. Including over 500 children. Injuring around 11,000 more. Many maimed for life.

In August, Human Rights Council (HRC) President Baudelaire Ndong Ella announced the formation of an "independent, international commission of inquiry" into war crimes committed during Israel's Operation Protective Edge.

Israel refused to cooperate. Conducting its own whitewash investigation instead. HRC's work remains ongoing.

Abbas signed the Rome Statute as well as other international agreements. According to the Palestine News Network, they include:

The Convention on the Political Rights of Women

Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the 'New York Convention')

Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal

Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II)

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Protocol III)

Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents

United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity

Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

Declaration in accordance with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

The Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Convention on Cluster Munitions

Last August, Palestine's legitimate Hamas government signed a proposal for ICC membership. At the time, its political group representative Mussa Abu Marzouq said:

"Hamas signed the document which (the) president put forth as a condition that all factions approve, before he goes to sign the Rome Statute, which paves the way for Palestine's membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC)."

In response to Abbas signing the Rome Statute, Netanyahu reacted as expected. Saying Israel will take unspecified "retaliatory steps."

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke called Abbas' decision "deeply troubling. (A)n escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people."

"Today's action is entirely counter-productive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state." 

"It badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace." 

"As we've said before, the United States continues to strongly oppose actions - by both parties - that undermine trust and create doubts about their commitment to a negotiated peace." 

"Our position has not changed. Such actions only push the parties further apart."

New York Times editors didn't surprise. Calling Abbas' statehood resolution and Rome Statute signing a "desperation move."

One-sidedly supporting Israel. Mocking Palestinian rights. Saying his "actions will almost certainly make the situation worse."

Instead of supporting Palestinian statehood forthrightly. Within 1967 borders. According to international law. Now, not later. 

Demanding Israel be held accountable for decades of high crimes. Not as long as Times' policy remains unchanged. Supporting Western and Israeli perpetrators over victims.

Abbas was disturbingly silent throughout most of Operation Protective Edge. Failing to denounce Israeli war crimes straightaway. 

His comments were weak-kneed, disingenuous, meaningless and insulting. Showing indifference to Palestinian suffering.

Balked at visiting Gaza. Refused to observe Israeli war crimes firsthand. Or demand accountability at the time.

He blocked efforts to pursue it. A previous article discussed Al Jazeera headlining "Is the PA stalling Gaza war crimes probe?"

"There has been no international investigation into war crimes in Gaza so far. Leaked document may (explain) why."

Abbas-led PA officials blocked efforts to investigate Israeli high crimes against peace during Operation Protective Edge.

Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit obtained what it calls "a confidential letter."

It said top ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda "did not receive positive confirmation" from PA  Foreign Minister Riad Malki. 

Its justice minister's request for an international investigation had no PA approval.

According to Al Jazeera:

"On July 25, PA Justice Minister Saleem al-Saqqa and Palestinian General Prosecutor Ismaeil Jabr submitted a letter to the ICC via a French law firm calling for an investigation." 

"However, according to ICC regulations, 'only the Head of State, Head of Government and Minister of Foreign Affairs' can grant the international body jurisdiction to investigate."

"Twelve days later, FM Malki travelled to The Hague to meet top ICC officials: 'We must do everything within our power to enable the International Criminal Court to bring to justice those responsible for committing war crimes,' " he said.

He said one thing. He pursued another. On August 29, Bensouda discussed what she called "the truth about the ICC and Gaza," saying:

"Under the laws of the Hague court, my office can only investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine if it grants us jurisdiction in its territory. It has not done so."

Operation Protective Edge continued from July 8 until August 26. For nearly six months, Abbas did nothing to hold Israel accountable.

Despite horrendous genocidal crimes of war and against humanity. Ones too serious to ignore. Showing contempt for his own people. His illegitimacy as a leader.

His current words ring hollow. Broadcast on Palestinian television. Meaningless comments. Intended to shore up his dwindling support.

Saying "(t)hey attack us and our land every day, to whom are we to complain? The security council let us down. Where are we to go?"

"We want to refer to international institutions, and this is one we are referring to, and we'll complain to these people."

His comments preceded signing the Rome Statute. Whether he petitions the Court against Israeli officials remains to be seen. He must wait 90 days to do so. More time lost.

His New Year's eve signing was too little, too late. A meaningless gesture. His Palestinian statehood resolution was an embarrassment. An affront.

Way short of what Palestinians deserve. Mocking their fundamental rights. In violation of international law.

Status quo occupation harshness persists. Gaza remains besieged. Its entire population collectively punished.

Israel continues operating unaccountably. With full US support and encouragement. 

Other Western leaders taking no action against Israel's worst crimes. Guilty of plenty of their own. 

Complicit with Washington. Waging war on humanity. Millions of long-suffering Palestinians remain isolated on their own. Nothing in prospect suggests change.

B'Tselem commented on 2014. Calling it a "terrible year. (O)ne of the cruelest and deadliest in the history of the occupation."

With "so much killing, devastation, pain and suffering. (T)he very opposite of peace and justice."

Daily occupied Palestinian life "means living a practically defenseless existence in the face of a constant threat of harm."

Nothing whatever is being done to change things. International law doesn't help. Nor UN treaties and conventions. Nor its bodies established to enforce them.

Popular resistance alone matters. Taking dead aim against Israeli ruthlessness. Including BDS initiatives. The power of public opinion. 

A groundswell perhaps one day able to change things. For sure no time soon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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