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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/26/15

Palestine at the International Criminal Court: Potential and Problems

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Reprinted from To The Point Analyses

Israeli PM Netanyahu Says Israeli soldiers are above the International Criminal Court!
Israeli PM Netanyahu Says Israeli soldiers are above the International Criminal Court!
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Part I -- Going to the ICC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was designed as a vehicle for the prosecution of the most heinous of crimes committed by individuals in positions of state authority -- those military officers and politicians at the top of a national chain of command. Until recently ICC prosecutions have been limited to leaders of small and weak states. This is not because the leaders of powerful nations are not sometimes culpable, but rather because no member state of the ICC has yet brought a relevant complaint.

This situation is about to change. In November 2012, Palestine achieved official observer status within the United Nations and this position allowed it to join the ICC.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) hesitated to take this next step as long as "peace negotiations" with Israel were ongoing. But by the spring of 2014, the latest round of such talks had proved as fruitless as their many predecessors. And so the Palestinians went ahead and signed the treaty that would make them a member nation of the Court -- a status that becomes official in April 2015. Palestine has already requested the Court to begin a preliminary investigation of Israel's actions within Palestinian territory (the Occupied Territories) during the 2014 invasion of Gaza. It is looking for indictments of Israeli leaders on war crimes charges.

This has made the Israeli government and its patron in Washington very angry. The U.S. Congress has sworn to defund the PNA, and the Israelis have sworn to "dissolve the ICC." The reason for the anger rests on the fact that the evidence for the commission of war crimes by Israel is overwhelming.

Part II -- Evidence

It is to be noted that even as the ICC begins its own formal investigation into Israeli behavior, the United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed a three-member independent commission of inquiry into possible violations of international law and human rights during the 2014 invasion. Its report is due this March. In the meantime Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem have all brought out their own independent reports.

Roughly, here are the facts as they are presently known:

...About 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in the period between July 8 and August 26. According to United Nations estimates 1,473 of these were civilians, including 527 children and 299 women. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 11,100 were injured, including 3,374 children, 2,088 women, and 410 elderly. This high casualty rate has been attributed to Israel's "reckless and disproportionate use of deadly force in densely populated urban areas."

In comparison, 71 Israelis were killed, of whom four were civilians; 469 Israeli soldiers were injured, as were 261civilians.

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Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign
Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest
; America's
Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli
Statehood
; and Islamic Fundamentalism. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.

His blog To The Point Analyses now has its own Facebook page. Along with the analyses, the Facebook page will also have reviews, pictures, and other analogous material.

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