Thursday, June 11, 2015

ICC Investigating Israeli War Crimes: Hold the Cheers

ICC Investigating Israeli War Crimes: Hold the Cheers

by Stephen Lendman

Despite decades of well-documented Israeli crimes against Palestinians, its government and officials continue remaining immune from accountability. Expect nothing different this time.

Months ahead of Palestine joining the International Criminal Court on April 1, an ICC prosecutor began a "preliminary examination" short of an official investigation into Israeli war crimes.

It covered violations "in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem since June 13, 2014" - focusing on Israel's 2014 summer Gaza war, Operation Protective Edge.

It was strictly procedural with no commitment for further action. The court so far never held Israel accountable for indisputable crimes of war and against humanity.

In April 2012, former chief prosecutor Jose Luis Moreno Ocampo rejected the Palestinian Authority's bid to investigate Israeli war crimes during its December 2008/January 2009 Cast Lead Gaza aggression.

His reasoning was spurious - claiming under the Rome Statute "only internationally recognized states can join the court." His official statement said:

"(T)he current status granted to Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly is that of 'observer,' not as a 'Non-member State,' (and only) relevant bodies at the United Nations" or group of states that make up the court may decide if Palestinians can become part of the Rome Statute.

"(T)he Office has assessed that 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 acceding to the Rome Statute and thereby enabling the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court."

"The Rome Statute provides no authority for the Office of the Prosecutor to adopt a method to define the term 'State.' "

Fact: Palestinian self-determination is recognized by over 140 nations. It's a de facto UN member. It lacks only de jure status because Abbas never sought what's easily obtainable.

Last December, he signed applications for Palestinian membership in 20 international organizations and treaties - including the International Criminal Court.

On April 1, Palestine formally attained ICC membership. In January, its senior negotiator Saeb Erakat said: 

"Palestine has and will continue to use all legitimate tools within its means in order to defend itself against Israeli colonization and other violations of international law."

Former ICC official Diana Chehade said the court won't investigate cases being examined by other judicial authorities.

"Based on the principle of complimentarity, the ICC would not investigate if an Israeli judicial institution is investigating a war crime to ICC standards," she said.

Days earlier Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said two war crimes complaints will be filed against Israel at the ICC - over its illegal settlements and summer 2014 Gaza aggression.

He'll personally deliver charges to chief ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in the Hague on June 25. Reports indicate she'll use them in determining whether a full investigation is warranted - a decision ICC pretrial department judges make.

Media reports indicate ICC investigators will arrive in Israel on June 27 to determine if enough evidence exists to consider war crimes charges. An ICC statement said:

"As part of its preliminary examination activities, the Office of the Prosecutor conducts field visits as it has done in the past with other situations under preliminary examinations."

"From the outset, the prosecutor has consistently made clear that the situation in Palestine will not be treated any differently from the others." 

"Therefore, the office as per normal practice, is considering a visit to the region during the course of its preliminary examination. Contrary to media reports, no date has been confirmed and further planning is required."

Following its review, the court will consider investigating war crimes charges - including unwarranted allegations against Palestinians. Self-defense in response to naked aggression conforms to fundamental international law.

If ICC prosecutors decide a full investigation is justified, the Security Council (namely Washington pressure on enough members) can request delaying proceedings for up to two years.

Palestinian sources indicated Russia and China would veto a resolution seeking delay. An unnamed Israeli official said "(n)othing about (the ICC investigation) testifies to the progress of the examination or its pace."
Israel will review the ICC's intention to visit Israel later this month. 

"We will examine every request for a visit while taking into account all the relevant considerations, including Israel’s position that Palestine is not a state and therefore the court has no authority to consider the Palestinian complaint," the official said.

The ICC is a longstanding imperial tool. It turns a blind eye to Western high crimes. It targets victimized states America and other Western nations designate. 

Expect indisputable Israeli high crimes against peace to remain unaccountable. Expect justice to be denied like always.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

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

Visit his blog site at 

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