World View: Palestinians Divided over Taking Israel to International Criminal Court

World View: Palestinians Divided over Taking Israel to International Criminal Court

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Israel to investigate its own possible war crimes in Gaza war
  • Palestinians divided over taking Israel to International Criminal Court
  • Little visible support for American coalition to fight ISIS

Israel to investigate its own possible war crimes in Gaza war

Israel’s Defense Force (IDF) has launched criminal probes overseveral incidents involving it soldiers during the Gaza war.In a July 16 incident, Israeli forces fired on a beach in Gaza City,killing four children who were playing there. Just over a week later,a UN school in the northern city of Beit Hanun was shelled by theIsraelis, killing at least 15 people. 

This will be part of an overall review by IDF. There willbe 12 main review teams, each headed by a high-level IDF officer.Among the issues being reviewed are: the use of firepower during theoperation; the maneuvering of ground forces; the IDF’s readiness todeal with the tunnel threat; the decision to amass forces at a stagingground despite it being within range of mortar fire; the use ofobsolete armored personnel carriers in fighting; intelligence; airdefense; and coordination between the air, ground and naval forces. 

Pro-Hamas activists are condemning the investigations as a

Another motive attributed to Israel is to head off an investigation bythe International Criminal Court (ICC). Generally speaking, the ICCcan gain jurisdiction over war crimes cases only if the countryinvolved is unwilling or unable to investigate itself. Deutsche Welle and Israel Hayom

Palestinians divided over taking Israel to International Criminal Court

Senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh is pressuring Mahmoud Abbas,president of the Palestinian Authority (PA/Fatah), to sign a documentthat would give the International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdictionto investigate alleged war crimes by Israel in the recent Gazawar. In a press statement, Haniyeh said: 

The Palestinian factions and Palestinian communityall agree on the need for Abbas to go to the ICC and sign the RomeStatute in order to prosecute the leaders of the Zionist enemy fortheir crimes committed against the Palestinian people…

Hamas signed the document urging Abbas to sign the Rome Statute,and the signing of this is the right of all the victims. Stallingthe signing of the Statute is considered a concession of theirrights and offensive to the Palestinian people and theirstruggle.

Haniyeh’s remarks come as pro-Hamas officials and activists expresspuzzlement and outrage that Abbas in August explicitly refused to signthe document that would give ICC jurisdiction over Israel’s allegedwar crimes. Abbas is the head of the Hamas-Fatah unity government,and so his approval is required before the ICC can act on any documentprovided by the Palestinians. 

Various reports give several possible reasons for Abbas’s refusal: 

  • One analyst suggested that the ICC submission was a major piece of leverage that Abbas holds in negotiations with the Israelis, and that Abbas wants to hold it back until it can be used with maximum effect.
  • Several analysts suggested that Abbas had made an under-the-table deal with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This is possible, and not as sinister as it seems, because an ICC submission would probably mean the end of all negotiations, and Abbas would really like to restart the “peace process” negotiations.
  • Opening an ICC investigation against Israel would also trigger an ICC investigation against war crimes by Hamas, and it’s believed that Israel has collected a great deal of unpublished evidence of Hamas shooting rockets indiscriminately into Israel from heavily populated Gaza neighborhoods, which would itself be a war crime. As we reported in July, Palestinian lawyers have expressed concern that Hamas would be found guilty of war crimes, while Israel would escape because the Israeli army warned Gaza people to evacuate their homes before they were bombed.

Another reason is related to the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war that we’ve writtenabout in several articles. There is a growing fault line separatingIsrael plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia plus PA/Fatah versus the Hamasplus Qatar plus Turkey. To put bluntly, Abbas considers Hamas to behis enemy, and does not want to empower Hamas in a way that wouldhappen if Abbas enabled an ICC war crime investigation of Israel.Ma’aN News (Bethlehem) and Middle East Eye andMiddle East Monitor and Israel National News

Little visible support for American coalition to fight ISIS

The plans announced in President Obama’s Wednesday speech to form aSyria (IS or ISIS) have been running into some roadblocks. 

Turkey made a surprise announcement on Thursday that it would not beparticipating, and would not allow American warplanes to use its airbases. Turkey has internal political considerations, and ISIS isholding 49 Turkish diplomats as hostages. 

Arab states, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are reluctantto participate because they would face retaliation by jihadistterrorist groups. Nato allies Britain and Germany are also reluctant,and France is completely ruling out participation. Politicians inmany countries note that President Obama has reneged on commitmentsbefore, and so many of these countries are reluctant to commit theirown resources when it’s not clear that Obama is fully committed. 

It’s possible that some of these countries will provide “quietcooperation,” but right now it looks like America will be the onlycountry performing air strikes, and no country except Iraq willprovide combat troops. I have not heard any analyst indicate that theproject will be successful without substantially more cooperation, andright now there are few signs that that cooperation is coming. It’spossible that officials in some countries will change their minds oncethe operation begins. CNN and Debka

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, International Criminal Court, ICC,Israel, Gaza, Hamas, Fatah, Palestinian Authority,Mahmoud Abbas, Ismail Haniyeh, Jordan, Saudi Arabia,Turkey, Egypt 

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