Headed Palestine mulling ICC if UN takes no action on settlements, it warned that if the UN Security Council didn't act against Israeli settlements Palestine would "consider complaining to the International Criminal Court, an option made available by Palestine’s admission as a non-member state to the UN in November".
What is there to mull? In all the years since 1967 what action has the Security Council taken to halt Israel's illegal settlements? Even now, does it show any sign of doing so?
By action we mean, of course, deeds not woolly words. We mean sanctions and the implementing of all those UN resolutions ordering the Israelis back behind their pre-1967 lines.
Taking Israel's crimes to the International Criminal Court is hardly something that still needs mulling over. It has been impatiently anticipated. The Court has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by nationals of a State Party or on the territory of a State Party since 1 July 2002, the date the Rome Statute came into effect. Palestinians have a huge backlog of business to do there.
Charges were surely prepared long ago, ready for submission the minute the door to justice swung open. Palestine declared its voluntary acceptance of the ICC’s jurisdiction in 2009, but was unable to pursue legal remedies until the question whether it could be regarded as a ‘State’ in accordance with Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute was resolved.
In April this year the ICC General Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, finally declared that: the General Assembly of the UN first needed to accept Palestine as an observer state. “As soon as this is done we can proceed.”
Well, it’s done. But while the PLO sits back, still mulling, Palestinians can expect the Israelis to establish more 'irreversible' facts on the ground designed to make the occupation permanent.
Rotten to the core
On Christmas Day of all days, and in Bethlehem of all places, Israel was still making war on Palestinian civilians. According to the Palestinian Monitoring Group in its Daily Situation Report posted on the website of the PLO's Negotiations Affairs Department, the Israelis chose Christmas Day to raid Wadi Al-Nies village, located in Bethlehem and therefore on Palestinian territory, and to serve demolition orders on 20 homes. That's the sort of low-down, despicable behaviour that should have been broadcast around the Western (Christian) world. Why wasn’t it?
And what is this Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD)? It was set up in 1994 in Gaza to follow up on the implementation of the Interim Agreement signed between Israel and the PLO http://www.nad-plo.org/etemplate.php?id=182 . Initially headed by Mahmoud Abbas before he became Palestinian president, the NAD was taken over in 2003 by Saeb Erekat, another loser and probably the most unsuccessful chief negotiator on the planet.
The NAD's offices in Gaza and Ramallah between them are supposed to cover Israeli affairs, Israel’s violations of signed agreements, Israel’s illegal settlement policies, Palestinian refugees, the Interim Agreements and the preparation of Palestinian positions for Permanent Status talks with Israel. The Ramallah office includes a research unit and a public relations unit.
At the outset the NAD asked the British government for technical assistance in preparing for Permanent Status talks. The UK Department for International Development agreed to provide "highly professional legal, policy and communications advice to the NAD and Palestinian negotiators". The resultant Negotiations Support Project has two main departments: Legal & Policy and Communications. The Legal & Policy Department's job is to strengthen and refine existing Palestinian negotiation positions, develop new positions where none existed, and contribute to interim initiatives intended to lead both sides out of stalemate or minimize the continuing damage inflicted by Israel while negotiations are stalled. This Department provides a host of advice on the various issues involved.
The Communications Department, for its part, "aims to explain and increase support for the Palestinian positions on Permanent Status issues and interim initiatives, to mobilize local and international civil society organizations to undertake advocacy on behalf of those positions, and to overcome misperceptions held by the Israeli public concerning Palestinian goals and intentions towards Israel.” In essence the Department publicizes and explains the Palestinian case in order to confront and balance out misleading narratives from the other side.