International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Should the ICC become involved in the “Situation in Palestine?”

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ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has announced her intention to launch a preliminary investigation into the “situation in Palestine.” Following the announcement there has been much speculation as to what exactly the ICC examine and whether this move could exacerbate tensions in the region. It is unclear whether court will focus on Hamas bombings of Israel or civilian deaths in Gaza. What is clear is the complexity of this conflict.

First, Palestine is not a recognized state by the Obama administration which means that Palestinians do not have standing. Furthermore Hamas, a US recognized terrorist organization, is a governing partner of Palestine. The Israeli military has also been conducting investigations of the Gaza war, that would make ICC intervention as a ‘last resort’ unnecessary.

Israeli leaders have openly expressed contempt for the ICC’s decision to investigate, claiming that Israeli soldiers should not be tried for defending against acts of terror. Others have joked that allowing this investigation would encourage other terrorist organizations to open cases as well. The Obama administration has warned that Palestine’s move at the ICC will escalate tensions.

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4 responses to “Should the ICC become involved in the “Situation in Palestine?”

  1. jdelduca February 16, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Although the situation is rather complex in terms of the key players in the conflict, it is important to highlight Israel’s reaction to Palestine’s decision to join the ICC and furthermore its reaction to the ICC’s preliminary investigation. After the launch of the preliminary investigation, Israel who had been an advocate of the court has now decided to challenge the existence of the court. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that Israel will seek to “dismantle this court, a body that represents hypocrisy and gives terror a tailwind..” He also stated “… this body represents no one. It is a political body…”. This illustrates how states although supporters of international justice ( for the most part) place their political priorities in front of justice. This also forces me to think about the ICC and it’s political value and whether this supranational entity really is fair and objective.
    More importantly though, why is Israel reacting in this manner? As stated in the Washington Post, it can be one of two reasons. One reason could be that Israel knows that it has committed atrocity crimes in Gaza and will be punished. The other being that Israel may feel that the ICC is biased against Israel therefore they are being unfairly targeted. I believe that the first reason makes more sense since Israel was supportive of the court until it decided to look into Israel’s activities in Palestine. By trying to delegitimize the court, Israel is making itself look guilty and it strengthens the court’s reputation thus making their efforts counter-productive. I think it is taking a step in the right direction if Israel decides to investigate alleged crimes committed by its citizens, as this would then as you mentioned make the ICC a ‘last resort’ court.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/01/20/israels-challenge-to-the-international-criminal-court/

  2. dwanger93 February 16, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    The war that has raged between the Palestinians and Israelis has been a bloody and gruesome one, with hatred and contempt on both sides. The recent decision for Palestine to join the ICC can be viewed in two different ways. First, it can be seen as not a way for the Palestinians to have justice for crimes committed against them but rather as a way to attack and damage the leaders of Israel, causing them to be weak and vulnerable. A second way it can be viewed is a legitimate attempt at achieving justice and reconciliation for victims and families of victims. The fact that Israel is responding by questioning the legitimacy of the ICC itself is of great concern to me as this suggests Israel has something to hide in the sense that they did commit war crimes. Also, in class we viewed the trials of many men who were found guilty by the ICC who used the exact same argument the Israeli’s are using right now. Therefore it is difficult for me to believe that the Israelis are completely innocent in this case.

  3. anisalarochelle February 18, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    As Kristina said, the ICC will be taking on a lot if it is interested in looking at the conflict in Palestine because of the complexity of the situation and struggles that have occurred for decades. I think it is interesting to notice that the conflict has been raging since the mid 20th century and the ICC can only judge from 2002 onward.
    After the 2014 peace negotiations were suspended, the ICC stepped in but has received widespread backlash from Israel being called a “Kangaroo court” and the prime minister vowing that Israeli soldiers will never be tired. In response to the ICC probe, the Israelis are with holding revenue for the Palestinian economy to the point where if this continues, will shut down the economy and government. The conflict between the two groups is worsening the situation instead of bringing intended justice to the societies, the ultimate intention of the ICC.
    The world is watching the United States, as a world power, who has to walk a tight line in order not to put too much support on either side. But the bottom line is, the problem needs to be dealt with between the two Israel and Palestine, not other outside forces.

  4. ncullen27 February 23, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    I think that the comment of the last response is quite interesting: “But the bottom line is, the problem needs to be dealt with between the two Israel and Palestine, not other outside forces.” I agree that involving local players would be ideal, as this situation has become exponentially complex. However, only leaving it to the two states might just result in continued stagnation of progress. Would it be possible to set up a hybrid/special criminal court like the one being started in Central Africa? This it seems might be ideal. As previously brought up, Israel’s behavior can be viewed as suspicious, and yet if they are in any way guilty could they be expected to behave in any other way? Would allowing domestic judges (Israeli and Palestinian) persuade Israel to be more cooperative? Or would this allow for more politicization and complicate the matter further. I think that it could possibly be a good solution.

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