International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

U.S. Blocks Palestine’s Entrance into the ICC

We have discussed at length this semester that the ICC is a much more politicized body than it would like to appear. Those states that wield greater spheres of influence and those with a veto in the UNSC have more pull in the ICC. However, the question of Palestine’s entrance into the ICC is a particularly interesting one because the major opposition comes from the U.S., which is not a ratified party of the ICC.

One day after Palestine was denied statehood by the UN, Abbas ratified the Rome Statute. Palestine would like to join the ICC and, likely, pursue charges against Israel. Obviously, as Israel’s close ally, the United States is vehemently opposed to that course of action for political reasons. Therefore, the U.S., in bully fashion, threatened to reconsider their foreign aid package to Palestine because of Palestine’s desire to join the court. In a statement made in December by U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, regarding the decision to block Palestine’s entrance, she said

“…moves to join international bodies are not productive and will not create a durable peace, and prefers a negotiated peace process between Israel and Palestine. Comprehensive peace talks, brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry, reportedly collapsed earlier this year in part because of Palestinian negotiators’ insistence on joining various UN treaties and conventions, although continued construction of Israeli settlements also played a role.”

The full text of her statement can be found here: Samantha Power’s Statement

Meanwhile, Palestine has ratified the Rome Statute and has been accepted into the ICC as an observing member by 122 states. This demonstrates a good faith agreement that Palestine is willing to cooperate with the Court and member states if admitted.

The issues surrounding Palestine’s entrance into the ICC illuminate the problems that erode the legitimacy of the ICC as an institution. How can the Court tout itself as an impartial source of global justice when it is clearly subject to the demands of certain political actors over others?

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One response to “U.S. Blocks Palestine’s Entrance into the ICC

  1. ncullen27 March 5, 2015 at 10:08 am

    The court runs the risk of looking like a political actor in Palestine if it accepts the case, and still more if it does not accept the case. Either way the court could be portrayed as bending to the will of another power. There would be many challenges facing the court should it try and pursue a case over the situation between Palestine and Israel. Not only is Palestine membership to the court already being questioned, but if a trial began, the ICC would face significantly increased pressure from Israel and the United States. In addition, Palestine is already facing economic consequences for joining, and those might also intensify if a trial or indictments were officially released.

    Regardless of how legitimate the reasons, if the court did decide not to pursue the issue it would appear to be bending to the will of the U.S. and Israel. Not only do trials like this take a notoriously long time, and issues in arresting indictees would be a potential problem, but also that situation between Palestine and Israel is still extremely tense and volatile. A trial could upset the fragile stability that exists. Even if the court manages to act politically, its actions can always be portrayed as political, especially by those who wish to denounce the court.

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