Here are some responses to the Palestinian Authority’s surprise move to sign a treaty giving it access to the International Criminal Court, which followed on the heels of the UN Security Council rejecting Palestine’s resolution to end the Israeli occupation within three years.
First, the U.S. is “deeply troubled.” The Palestinian move at the ICC “increases polarization and allows more space for destabilizing actions.” Thanks to AP’s Matt Lee:
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is enraged that the Palestinians would “threaten” the most moral army in the world. From Facebook:
Abu Mazen can sign any Covenant that he wants, the only ones who commit war crimes in the conflict are the Palestinians themselves, who are responsible for the murderous terrorism against babies, children, men and women indiscriminately, for the last hundred years. The same judge deaf, blind and dumb idea. So that Abu Mazen will not threaten us, the country with the most moral army in the world!
The American liberal Zionist group J Street also had deplored the Palestinian initiative, in an earlier statement taking no position on Palestine’s failed bid at the UN Security Council to end the occupation, but urging American leadership to restart peace negotiations to achieve a two-state solution:
We implore the Palestinians as well not to respond to yesterday’s failure by turning to the International Criminal Court, a step that could set off a spiral of counterproductive actions and still leave them no closer to freedom and self-determination.
What is a spiral of counterproductive actions? Al Jazeera:
Abbas’ decision is expected to trigger a harsh response from Israel…
But as Allison Deger reported for us, there’s joy in Ramallah:
Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Ramallah, said that people were expecting President Abbas to stand by his pledges.
“People here wanted a muscular response from the president, and he has made good on his promises as to what would happen if the resolution failed.”
The New York Times changed the lead on Jodi Rudoren’s story stating that the Palestinian move was a “provocative” one to say instead that the Palestinians had opened “a new front in the Middle East conflict.” This after Ahmed Moor said:
@rudoren starts the new year with a gift. ICC is “provocative” but “war crimes” are not
And Ali Abunimah jibed:
Palestinians joining ICC is “provocative,” while Israel murdering thousands is “adolescent”.
(A reference to an earlier Rudoren piece, saying that in the last rough year, “Israel, still an adolescent nation, is going through something of an identity crisis.”)
Just a day back the Institute for Middle East Understanding had released experts’ comments on the UN Security Council decision. Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti said the U.S. is opposed to the two-state solution:
“Those countries that voted against or abstained on the Palestinian resolution at the Security Council, regardless of how weak and compromised it was, are sending a strong message: They oppose the two-state solution and cannot be considered peace brokers.”
Diana Buttu, the former negotiator and international legal scholar, called on the PLO leadership to go to the ICC because the Oslo process had only tripled the number of Israeli colonists living under Israel’s “racist occupation regime.”
“Despite being a flawed and weak resolution, the US and UK governments voted against it largely because it places a deadline on ending Israel’s military occupation, without even specifying what penalties Israel might face should the deadline not be met. It is clear from this that the US, UK and other members of the international community will continue to provide unqualified support to Israel even as it continues to systemically violate their national policies and international law, and that their professed desire to see Palestinians live in freedom and achieve their rights is nothing more than empty rhetoric.”
Yousef Munayyer, soon to be the head of the US Campaign to End the Occupation, pointed out that the rejection gives momentum to the BDS movement:
“Today’s vote is but another meaningless one for Palestinians living under the boot of the Israeli military. Each and every episode like this, where the international community underscores its failure to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian question, is another boon to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which provides an alternative to stagnation at the UN. Perhaps that is the silver lining of this moment.”
Fadi Quran, West Bank activist, said it was time to go to the ICC:
“The vast majority of United Nations members recognize the state of Palestine and have opened the door to its freedom, but the US and a few others continue to slam it shut. Today’s vote was a clear message to the people of Palestine that the route to freedom does not run through New York or Washington. Now is the time to take Israel to the International Criminal Court and to grow nonviolent popular resistance to the Israeli military occupation.”
Ali Abunimah said that the UN has ignored earlier and more forceful UN resolutions, such as 465 of 1980, stating that Israeli settlements are illegal under the Geneva Conventions, a resolution the Oslo process has helped to undermine.
“The Palestinian people do not need more — and weaker — UN resolutions, they need existing ones to be enforced.”
Noura Erakat also said that the vote gave impetus to the BDS movement and said it opens a new era in Palestinian resistance:
“It is also more reason for the Palestinian leadership to place its eggs in other diplomatic baskets beyond the United States, and to launch a full-scale grassroots, media, legal, and popular campaign for Palestinian freedom and rights.”
And she said the US acted to protect a fellow settler-colonial society:
“The US’s vote is particularly telling. Combined with its 2011 veto of a resolution condemning Israel’s settlement enterprise, it makes clear that the US is still willing to shield Israel to continue its detrimental practices and to impede possible solutions to the conflict, thus demonstrating its centrality as a part of the problem. There is no irony in the fact that the two votes against the resolution, the US and Australia, are also settler-colonial regimes.”
Here is part of Ambassador Samantha Power’s “explanation” for why the U.S. voted in the Security Council against the Palestinian bid to end the occupation in three years:
We voted against this resolution not because we are indifferent to the daily hardships or the security threats endured by Palestinians and Israelis, but because we know that those hardships will not cease and those threats will not subside until the parties reach a comprehensive settlement achieved through negotiations. This resolution sets the stage for more division – not for compromise. It could well serve to provoke the very confrontation it purports to address…
[W]e will continue to oppose actions by both sides that we view as detrimental to the cause of peace, whether those actions come in the form of settlement activity or imbalanced draft resolutions in this Council.
Notice that both Israelis and Palestinians face daily hardships. Notice that the U.S. will oppose settlement activity. The U.S. is presuming to be an honest broker between equal parties, at a time when very few folks see it that way.