The Palestine Central Council needs to make resolute decisions
Palestinians are preparing a detailed dossier regarding Israel’s crimes of war in Gaza
As the Palestine Central Council (PCC) meets at the Ramallah headquarters, two major issues related to the Palestinian national strategy will be discussed.
First, the PCC will need to decide how to deal with the approaching April 1 date when Palestine will become a regular member of the International Criminal Court (ICC); second, the Palestinian leadership forum must decide the future of security coordination with Israel.
Salim Zannoun, the speaker of the Palestine National Council, the Palestinians’ parliament, called for the meeting to be held at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah to discuss the future of the Palestinian national struggle.
Ten members of the 124-member council who reside in the Gaza Strip were prevented from attending the conference. They were not given permits to travel via the Erez checkpoint and the Rafah crossing has been closed for months.In debating joining the ICC, the Palestinian council will most certainly give the Ramallah-based leadership green light to take legal action against Israel for its war crimes.
Palestinians are preparing a detailed dossier regarding Israel’s crimes of war in Gaza during last summer’s assault. Legal experts, however, feel that Palestine will have a much easier case to prosecute Israel for its illegal and continuous settlement activities.
Palestinians are preparing a detailed dossier regarding Israel’s crimes of war in Gaza during last summer’s assaultDaoud Kuttab
To prove a war crime, the Palestinians not only have to show the actual commission of a specific crime, but must also show that the violating party has done nothing or very little to investigate it.
And even though Israel has rarely held its own soldiers and officers responsible for war crimes, it is always creating the appearance of a genuine investigation, thus lessening the possibility of being found clearly guilty.
On the issue of settlements, however, which the International Court of Justice ruled in 2007 to be illegal and a violation of humanitarian law, the case against Israel is much clearer.
Naturally, by agreeing to continue the prosecution of Israel in international courts, the PCC will have to take responsibility for any reactions to such move, including the possibility of a total cut off of U.S. financial support to Palestine.
This possibility is more real after the Republican Party gained majority in both Houses of Congress. The House of Representatives and the Senate must agree to any financial disbursement.
The more troubling and yet interconnected problem is how to handle security coordination with Israel.
Palestinians, including many in President Mahmoud Abbas’ own Fatah, are calling for a suspension of this last remaining inheritance of the Oslo Accords.
Why should Palestinians honor a commitment at the time Israel is refusing to turn over Palestinian taxes and continues to infiltrate Palestinian Areas A.
The killing last month of a 19-year-old Fatah activist in the Dheisheh camp, within the so-called sovereign security areas of the Palestinian government, has put a damper on the continuation of this coordination.
But breaking off security coordination could result in further Israeli retaliation and the possible expulsion (or worse) of Palestinian leaders.
The end of security coordination could result in the collapse of the Palestinian government.
Many Palestinians and their supporters see little lost in such an eventuality. They say that Israel as an occupying power must take responsibilities for the occupied areas and not outsource the security, as well as the administrative and financial aspects of running the lives of people under its occupation.
While this idea sits well with many ideologues, in practice few Palestinians see it as an advantage.
The possibility of life becoming much more difficult if Israel is to resume total control over the occupied territories is worrisome to many who remember the days of the Israeli civil administration of the Palestinians.
Finally, there are rumors that 79-year-old Abbas might be introducing the position of vice president. Abbas’ choice, according to insiders, is the head of his intelligence services, Majed Faraj.
If such a decision is taken in Ramallah, this would be a huge blow to the many Fatah leaders who were hoping that the seventh congress, due to be held later this year, would propel one to that coveted position.
The choices facing the PCC are strategic and require courage and a level-headed attitude.
While Palestinians will continue to await the results of the Israeli elections and the developments in the U.S.-Israeli relations, their highest priority should be to come up with an initiative and a strategy in the council that should be later acted upon.
This article was first published in the Jordan Times on March 5, 2015.
Daoud Kuttab, an award winning Palestinian journalist who resides in Jerusalem and Amman. Mr. Kuttab is the director general of Community Media Network a media NGO that runs a radio station in Amman (al balad radio 92.4fm) a newsweb site ammannet.net and a TV production operation in Palestine Penmedia (penmedia.ps) which is producing the Palestinian version of Sesame street. You can read his blogs on DaoudKuttab.com and find him on Twitter @DaoudKuttab.