Trending Topics:

Exclusive: Palestine seeks to charge Israel with ‘apartheid’ and war crimes at The Hague

Israel/Palestine
on 25 Comments

Palestinian leaders seek to charge Israel at the International Criminal Court in The Hague with the crime of “Apartheid” and 22 other criminal counts, including seven war crimes. A thick set of documents containing evidence and arguments was ceremoniously handed over to the ICC today at its headquarters, according to Shawan Jabarin, the director of the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq.

Jabarin said he had seen the documents in Ramallah and that the case file covers three areas of Israeli violations under international law: the summer war in Gaza in 2014, settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and issues relating to Palestinian prisoners. Most of the pages are of “legal analysis and legal arguments” he said, in which Palestinians gave technical explanations to the court for how Israel broke specific regulations.

The dossier is organized into sections, one for each of the 23 counts against Israel. Aside from asserting that Israel has violated the United Nations definition of “Apartheid,” Jabarin said the report also names specific crimes such as the “targeting of civilians” in Gaza, and violations of rights to due process for Palestinian detainees held in Israeli prisons who are then prosecuted under Israeli military code.

Military courts boast a 99.9% conviction rate and trials last an average of five minutes. Palestinians rights groups say these courts violate their fundamental rights to a fair trial. Additionally, Israel transfers Palestinians from the occupied territory to a number of prisons inside Israel in what the Palestinian brief argues is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  

The evidence used to support each of the Palestinian claims is sourced from field investigations by the Palestinian government, and reports published by the human rights groups Al Haq, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Surprisingly Jabarin indicated the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) report published Sunday outlining “possible war crimes” committed by Israel and Hamas was not included, despite Palestinian leaders stating repeatedly over the past few months that they would courier a copy to the ICC. Even so, the court has the ability to solicit their own research materials including ordering the UN report.

For the moment Palestinian officials are keeping quiet on the details. Jabarin’s account represents the most substantial clues as to what charges Palestine will seek against Israel. And while he was confident about what he had seen in the file, he noted that he had not read the entire file, and it may contain further charges.

“It’s not for public view,” Ashraf Khatib, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and an advisor to the negotiations team, told me. “We wanted to have an exclusive report made for the ICC.” Another source close to the Palestinian government indicated a directive had gone out to not disclose the contents of the brief. 

“Who is charged, it’s up to the court,” said Khatib. “The idea is to make sure Israel and Israeli decision makers will not commit more crimes like the ones that took place in Gaza last year.”

Last winter after Palestine joined the ICC, its leaders sought to compel the ICC to look into war crimes committed by Israel. However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was barred at that time from calling for a criminal investigation. His hands were tied by a four-month waiting period for new members to the court.

All the same, Palestinian officials exploited a loophole in the ICC rules to initiate a “preliminary inquiry” against Israel within their first months of joining the ICC. Now that freeze against filing charges against Israel has elapsed, Palestinian officials hope that their documents turned over to the court today will upgrade the inquiry into a full investigation, giving the court the power to summons Israeli officials for a trial.

Yet there is no guarantee that the court will charge Israel, and Israel can still take actions that would immobilize The Hague. 

The ICC can only move to charge Israel once its internal war crimes investigations closes. The ICC does not prosecute countries or leaders who are sanctioned by their own legal systems. Right now, Israel still has a handful of cases open that could lead to indictments.

On the other hand, prosecution in the ICC could be nearing for Hamas for the alleged war crimes it committed during the war, including the targeting of civilians by rocket fire and the killings of so-called collaborators. The UN Human Rights Council report revealed the Islamic movement that rules Gaza does not have any system of internal review, which is the only mechanism that could outright block the ICC from opening charges. As a result, Hamas is currently more exposed to the long arm of the ICC than Israel.

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

25 Responses

  1. lysias
    lysias
    June 25, 2015, 4:11 pm

    And look who’s reacting. Lawmakers warn Palestinian actions could suspend US aid:

    Two lawmakers are warning the Palestinian Authority (PA) that its economic assistance from the United States could be suspended because of its decision to initiate charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    “By formally submitting allegations against Israeli forces to the ICC Chief Prosecutor, President [Mahmoud] Abbas has triggered a provision in U.S. law that suspends all economic assistance to the PA,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.

    I guess the truth of the charges is no defense.

    • just
      just
      June 25, 2015, 5:13 pm

      So what, Nita?

      Then it will be made crystal clear (again) that the US Congress doesn’t stand for justice and freedom and human rights and democracy. That’s already obvious with their Israel- first votes for ‘moral’ support, weapons, aid, resolutions, etc. ad nauseam.

      Have they done anything positive for Gaza? Have they ever done anything positive for Palestinians or Palestine?

      Yesterday 19 Democrats finally dipped their hesitant toes in the water for Palestinian children…

    • italian ex-pat
      italian ex-pat
      June 25, 2015, 10:23 pm

      @Lysias
      In the article you reference, Rep. Lowey is quoted as saying that the provision mentioned was crafted to prevent US tax money from rewarding provocative and unilateral acts aimed at disrupting peace negotiations. I suppose the continuous building of settlements on contested land doesn’t fit the definition?!

      Rep. Lowey also said that Pres. Abbas’ actions indicate his abandonment of the two-state agreement. Really? After Netanyahu’s public announcement that there will be NO Palestinian state? Maybe she didn’t get the memo. Mr. Abbas surely did, and he must be really p….d off to be accused of being the one abandoning the ‘negotiations’. It must have come as a surprise to Ms. Lowey & Co. that he refused to be once again played for a fool and continue to go along with the old con game.

      • Doubtom
        Doubtom
        June 26, 2015, 8:06 pm

        Excellent comments ex-pat,,makes one wonder where this Lowey b—h has been burrowing lately not to be aware of who is against Palestinian rights and statehood. Democrats are usually better informed than she is.

  2. WH
    WH
    June 25, 2015, 5:28 pm

    ‘The UN Human Rights Council report revealed the Islamic movement that rules Gaza does not have any system of internal review, which is the only mechanism that could outright block the ICC from opening charges.’

    So the fact that Israel can ‘investigate’ and exonerate itself protects it from charges? What a pathetic regulation.

    • ET
      ET
      June 26, 2015, 8:37 am

      This is not accurate:
      1 The jurisdiction of the ICC cannot be blocked
      2 Its a false premise that Diplomatic Immunity can block ICC Indictment:
      3 The double jeopardy principle : The premise that a respective nation-states jurisprudential system civilian or military vis-a-vis any person accused of War Crimes would delay the ICC investigation until that domestic case ran its course is not equal to immunity from ICC.

      • just
        just
        June 26, 2015, 8:48 am

        Thanks for that, ET.

        And thanks for your post below @ 825.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        June 27, 2015, 2:06 pm

        The double jeopardy principle : The premise that a respective nation-states jurisprudential system civilian or military vis-a-vis any person accused of War Crimes would delay the ICC investigation until that domestic case ran its course is not equal to immunity from ICC.

        In practice nothing prevents the ICC from investigating and indicting individuals for any of the crimes listed in Articles 6, 7, & 8 – so long as they are not charged in a national court with exactly the same offense or have been charged with an offense that has different elements. Israel doesn’t even have enabling legislation for the Geneva or Apartheid Conventions, so it’s not likely that it will be able to charge anyone for the offenses enumerated in them.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      June 27, 2015, 1:36 pm

      So the fact that Israel can ‘investigate’ and exonerate itself protects it from charges? What a pathetic regulation.

      Not at all. for instance the extensive destruction of essential housing and infrastructure in Gaza, the illegal transfer or deportation of prisoners to Israel, and the unlawful appropriation of land for settlements are :

      Art. 147. Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.

      Art. 148. No High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by another High Contracting Party in respect of breaches referred to in the preceding Article.

      — 4th Geneva Convention

      The fact that Israel doesn’t bother to investigate crimes or closes-out criminal inquiries without even obtaining sworn testimony from the eyewitnesses or victims and cross-examining them is very well documented. In 2003, the ICJ advised that the settlements and the wall were not only illegal, but that:

      …under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel is under an obligation to search for and bring before its courts persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, grave breaches of international humanitarian law flowing from the planning, construction and use of the wall. (paragrapgh 145)

      http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1671.pdf

      So Israel fits the bill perfectly when it comes to either the “unwilling or unable” test that triggers ICC jurisdiction:

      Article 17
      Issues of admissibility

      1. Having regard to paragraph 10 of the Preamble and article 1, the Court shall determine that a case is inadmissible where:

      (a) The case is being investigated or prosecuted by a State which has jurisdiction over it, unless the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution;

      (b) The case has been investigated by a State which has jurisdiction over it and the State has decided not to prosecute the person concerned, unless the decision resulted from the unwillingness or inability of the State genuinely to prosecute;

      (c) The person concerned has already been tried for conduct which is the subject of the complaint, and a trial by the Court is not permitted under article 20, paragraph 3;

      (d) The case is not of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the Court.

      2. In order to determine unwillingness in a particular case, the Court shall consider, having regard to the principles of due process recognized by international law, whether one or more of the following exist, as applicable:

      (a) The proceedings were or are being undertaken or the national decision was made for the purpose of shielding the person concerned from criminal responsibility for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court referred to in article 5;

      (b) There has been an unjustified delay in the proceedings which in the circumstances is inconsistent with an intent to bring the person concerned to justice;

      (c) The proceedings were not or are not being conducted independently or impartially, and they were or are being conducted in a manner which, in the circumstances, is inconsistent with an intent to bring the person concerned to justice.

      3. In order to determine inability in a particular case, the Court shall consider whether, due to a total or substantial collapse or unavailability of its national judicial system, the State is unable to obtain the accused or the necessary evidence and testimony or otherwise unable to carry out its proceedings.

      Rome Statute of the ICC

      • just
        just
        June 27, 2015, 2:36 pm

        I was hoping that you would stop by, Hostage.

        Great to see you!

  3. Egbert
    Egbert
    June 25, 2015, 6:51 pm

    It seems that Israel’s actions over the attempt to ban them from FIFA may have been a pyrrhic victory.

  4. NickJOCW
    NickJOCW
    June 26, 2015, 6:49 am

    Israel also believes that support for Palestinian unilateral actions in international arenas strengthens the PA resolve to seek a solution to the conflict outside a negotiated forum.

    http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Palestinians-submit-first-case-material-against-Israel-to-ICC-407165

    …and that is what, exactly? Not fair? Not sympathetic? An effort to de-legitimise Israel? Anti-Semitic? Actually, it seems to me that to suggest, even by inference, that Israelis only behave as they do to Palestinians because they are Jews is itself culpably anti-Semitic.

  5. CigarGod
    CigarGod
    June 26, 2015, 7:47 am

    That the Palestinians are punished for complaining of ill treatment under occupation, is certainly a good example of the “no light between”.
    This is another glaring example of the injustice young people see and reject. Rep. Lowey unknowingly kicks a ball into the wrong goal.

  6. just
    just
    June 26, 2015, 8:22 am

    Vatican signs first treaty with Palestinian state, voices support for ‘two state-solution’

    Israel blasts what it calls a ‘hasty’ step that damage peace prospects, while Palestinians laude move.

    REUTERS – The Vatican signed its first treaty with the “State of Palestine” on Friday, calling for “courageous decisions” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a two-state solution.

    The treaty concerned the Catholic Church’s activities in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

    The Israeli foreign ministry said it regretted the move, calling the signing of a treaty, which implies there is an official Palestinian state, “a hasty step (that) damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement”. …

    …The Palestinian for their part lauded the move, with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki saying he was “proud and honored” of the treaty. According to a statement released by the Palestinian Authority, the treaty reinforced the PA’s bond with the Holy See and “the special status of Palestine as the birthplace of Christianity and as the cradle of monolithic religions.”

    The Palestinians further said that the agreement “embodies our shared values of freedom, dignity, tolerance, co-existence, and equality of all. This comes at a time when extremism, barbaric violence, and ignorance threaten the social fabric and cultural identity of the region and indeed of human heritage.”

    The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2012 recognizing Palestine as an observer non-member state. This was welcomed at the time by the Vatican, which has the same observer non-member status at the United Nations.

    Since then the Vatican has de facto recognized a “State of Palestine” and Pope Francis referred to it by that name when he visited the Holy Land last year. ”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.663142?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    Coincidentally, there’s this headline in Haaretz as well:

    “Where’s the rabbi who can inspire us like Pope Francis?
    ‘Laudato Si,’ Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, articulates a universal message across religious divides.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/jerusalem-babylon/.premium-1.663078

    Heh.

    • CigarGod
      CigarGod
      June 26, 2015, 8:27 am

      Nice!
      The church should immediately establish chapels in all schools, medical facilities, and UN buildings, etc.

    • Kay24
      Kay24
      June 26, 2015, 8:40 am

      “Israel blasts what it calls a ‘hasty’ step that damage peace prospects, while Palestinians laude move.”

      Isn’t it funny how Israel (and even the US) tries to block anything that goes against Israeli policies by constantly citing “peace prospects”? It is so obvious they don’t give a damn about
      peace, by their continuing the occupation and land grabs. As if the world is naive and don’t know that by now.

      This move by the Palestinians will result in more focus and awareness of Israel’s continued crimes against humanity, if not anything else. Good luck to all in this effort, and bad luck for the occupier.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        June 26, 2015, 9:00 am

        It is good to work within “the system”, sometimes.
        The net is going to eventually drop on top of some poor Israeli scape goat…and he’ll give up some names…and so on and so on…

  7. ET
    ET
    June 26, 2015, 8:25 am

    Self_evident that the Apartheid & East Jerusalem arguments shall be thrown out:

    1 ICC accepted the Accession of the UNGA 181 State of Palestine under A/RES/67/19
    1.1 A/RES/67/19 Ph 5 references UNGA 181
    1.2 State of Palestine sovereignty of territory is defined in UNGA 181 Part II Boundaries A., Arab State

    2 Apartheid is a domestic political situation & not an international political situation
    2.1 Whereof, the context of Israeli actions vis-a-vis Palestinians in the West Bank is not Apartheid:
    2.2 Israel actions at West Bank are LOAC War Crimes in breach of Principles of Nuremberg, Principle VI., (c) Crimes Against Humanity of political persecution to dispossess Palestinians from their UNGA 181 National Rights of sovereignty in connexion with
    2.2.1 (a) Crimes Against Peace of non_UNSC 242 Compliance
    2.2.2 Or (B) War Crimes of I_973 Geneva Convention of Article 49 transfer of Israeli citizenry into occupied territory of UNGA 181 State of Palestine

    2.3 Apartheid can be applied to the Bedouin & Israeli_Arabs within Whiteline Palestine territories of Negev, East & North Gaza, Jaffa, Rams Head & Beersehba, & Galilee:
    2.3.1 If the UNGA 181 State of Palestine should purpose to grant them dual UNGA 181 State of Palestine Citizenship through this action.

    3 ICC has no jurisdiction in City of Jerusalem, neither West Jerusalem nor East Jerusalem, under this UNGA 181 A/RES/67/19 Petition
    3.1 City of Jerusalem is UN Sovereignty of territory: UNGA 181
    3.2 Reiterate City of Jerusalem is not UNGA 181 State of Palestine sovereignty of territory

    • ET
      ET
      June 26, 2015, 8:53 am

      4 “Let them charge whomever they want” is idiocy of irresponsibility:
      4.1 Abbas himself can & should be indicted:
      4.2 I shall prepare a War Crimes Amicus Brief vis-a-vis Abbas
      4.3 PA Prime Minister & PA Prime Minister’s Cabinet can also be indicted for unconditional security cooperation with IDF

      5. Reiterate: Israel actions at West Bank are LOAC War Crimes in breach of Principles of Nuremberg, Principle VI., (c) Crimes Against Humanity of political persecution to dispossess Palestinians from their UNGA 181 National Rights of sovereignty in connexion with
      5.1 (a) Crimes Against Peace of non_UNSC 242 Compliance
      5.2 Or (B) War Crimes of I_973 Geneva Convention of Article 49 transfer of Israeli citizenry into occupied territory of UNGA 181 State of Palestine

      5.3 Abbas & Fatah PA officials collaboration with IDF is Principles of Nuremberg VII

      5.3.1 Principle VII “Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.”

      5.4 PON http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/draft%20articles/7_1_1950.pdf

  8. Peacekeeper
    Peacekeeper
    June 26, 2015, 9:13 am

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Palestine’s membership in the ICC turns the ICC “into part of the problem and not part of the solution.”. How true, since King Bibi was clearly only thinking about himself when he said this.

    • diasp0ra
      diasp0ra
      June 26, 2015, 10:30 am

      I just want to understand what is left to threaten. What peace process, what could possibly be worse than the situation right now other than them wheel-carting us out in buses to Jordan and Egypt?

  9. amigo
    amigo
    June 26, 2015, 12:02 pm

    These responses by Israel,s leaders are evidence of desperation.They know that if the ICC starts an investigation , it will be covered in the global MSM and will continue for years.Israel has to be the easiest nation to give rope to and the most enjoyable, to sit back and watch as they swallow it whole and then ask for more.

    I would guess that the folks at the ICC do not take kindly to being treated like unimportant players and will be all the more determined to bring Israel,s leaders to task.A trial in absentia would suffice and result in many of Israel,s leaders being confined to their beloved Jewish state , wherever tha begins or ends , that is.

    Will Israel do another Lawn mowing as a means of sticking their finger at the International community and strengthen resolve against it. Who knows–madmen are prone to do anything when trapped.

    • CigarGod
      CigarGod
      June 26, 2015, 2:26 pm

      True.
      Trapped folks feel they have nothing to lose.
      A wise general will allow them to retreat…along a path of his choosing.
      I bet Sun Tsu already said that.

  10. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    June 26, 2015, 5:24 pm

    “Two lawmakers are warning the Palestinian Authority (PA) that its economic assistance from the United States could be suspended because of its decision to initiate charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

    How many times, Dear Hearts, have they threatened this? It is a threat so idle it takes root. Personally I can think of nothing better than the PA having its funds cut. If the PA falls who’s going to have to step in? Cut their funding, you’ll be doing the Palestinians a favor

    Please American, pull that trigger, you know you want to!

  11. Kay24
    Kay24
    June 27, 2015, 7:10 am

    It is time the US stopped propping up this rogue state and keep helping it get away with the worst crimes against humanity (especially from a so called “democracy”) for decades.
    This madness must stop. Enough of the BS excuses it is beginning to sound lame and makes no sense, and enough of zionist sympathizers like Nina Lowey threatening to stop the aid to those who are in dire straits.

    “Israel has been an outspoken critic of the ICC, saying the Palestinian Authority is not a state and should never have been admitted as an ICC member.

    The United States is not a member of the ICC, and many U.S. lawmakers have criticized the Palestinians’ decision to join it as detrimental to hopes for peace with Israel. On Thursday, members of the U.S. Congress said the Palestinians’ “misguided” action threatened U.S. aid.

    “By formally submitting allegations against Israeli forces to the ICC chief prosecutor, President [Mahmoud] Abbas has triggered a provision in U.S. law that suspends all economic assistance to the PA,” said U.S. Representative Nita Lowey, a senior member of the subcommittee that oversees foreign aid.

    U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration also said it opposes actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive.

    “We do not believe the Palestinians are eligible to accede to the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court,” said Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

    Israel also argues that the ICC inquiry will make it harder to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians. Talks on a Palestinian state in territory Israel captured in a 1967 war collapsed last year and there is no prospect of reviving them.”

    http://www.voanews.com/content/reu-palestinians-submit-first-case-material-against-israel-to-icc/2837836.html

Leave a Reply