Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The PA has not done its homework - Omer Dostri



by Omer Dostri


But contrary to popular belief, the ICC in The Hague does not deal with the conviction or investigation of a nation's crimes and Mahmoud Abbas cannot "sue Israel." The ICC deals with cases and actions of individuals. Furthermore, there are conditions in place that may hamper the Palestinians' ability to sue Israeli military officers and government employees involved in defense. 


"The Palestinian application to The Hague: Israel in an embarrassing legal conundrum" was Haaretz's headline after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute that would allow him to file claims with the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It seems as if every time there is a Palestinian or international threat regarding global organizations, the Israeli media creates an electrified and populist atmosphere of imminent collapse and diplomatic disasters. Yet every time these waves of demagoguery simply disintegrate as they meet reality.

From an international law perspective, analysis of Palestinian Authority's threats reveals that they are likely hollow, although their intent and ability to hurt Israel is still real. It appears though that Palestinian Authority itself is not that well versed in international organizations. Take, for example, the London based news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat, which claimed on Friday that a Palestinian representative had been instructed to expedite the submission of complaints at The Hague against Israel for war crimes.

But contrary to popular belief, the ICC in The Hague does not deal with the conviction or investigation of a nation's crimes and Mahmoud Abbas cannot "sue Israel." The ICC deals with cases and actions of individuals. Furthermore, there are conditions in place that may hamper the Palestinians' ability to sue Israeli military officers and government employees involved in defense. 

For one, to sue Israeli officials, the Palestinian Authority must be a fully fledged nation, an absolute requirement for the ICC.

Considering that the U.N. Security Council refused the Palestinian Authority's statehood petition, it would be very hard for the president of the ICC to see the Palestinian Authority is a proper nation -- even though they were accepted as an observer state in the U.N. General Assembly. The Palestinian Authority also does not uphold the requirement set by the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States on what constitutes a nation, in that it does not have "defined territory." 

The Palestinians have yet another obstacle. The Hague sees itself as an authority of last resort. It is required to investigate only if the accused nation does not have a reliable legal system that can investigate itself with. Israel has such a body and the High Court has received international praise and recognition. The Palestinians would have to make great efforts to convince The Hague judges that Israel does not investigate its own behavior and it is doubtful whether these efforts will bear fruit, in light of the numerous internal investigations Israel conducts.

In light of all the limitations, it looks like the Palestinians have a long way to go before -- if at all -- they succeed in suing Israeli officials. It should not be forgotten that it would open the Palestinians themselves -- specifically Mahmoud Abbas, who is a member of a terrorist government that had carried out terrorist attacks in the past -- to countersuits. 

Alongside the hubbub over the legal actions being taken against Israel, the Palestinians have also accused Israel of "violating international law" for halting the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority. Fatah Central Committee member Saeb Erekat called it "robbery in broad daylight and action more befitting pirates than governments," and said that "the money is not Israeli donations to the Palestinian people. [Israel] is withholding money that belongs to [the Palestinians]."

But the Palestinians owe Israel 1.5 billion shekels ($380 million) -- debt that has accrued in light of their refusal to pay electricity bills in recent years. This money belongs to Israel and the government can declare that it is in fact collecting debts. The Palestinians may have to get used to lacking funds in the near future, as the U.S. Congress is mulling changing a law that would mean an end to American aid to the Palestinians if they go to the ICC against Israel.


Omer Dostri is a master's student in diplomacy at Tel Aviv University and author of the political blog "Why not politics now."

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=11125

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

No comments:

Post a Comment