After failed bilateral negotiations with Israel, leaders of Palestine are taking to the global stage in order to force Israel to be held accountable.
After signing the Rome Statute the ICC began its preliminary probe into war crimes in Palestine, panicking officials in Israel.
“Gaining status at the ICC will serve as a preventive measure, for Israel to understand that it can’t continue without accountability and that it will have to take into consideration consequences of its actions,” Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi said. “Because for the first time, [Israel] is going to be held accountable.”
Condemnation and panic in Israel
Israel and the US have slammed both the PA and the ICC for the move.
“The Palestinian Authority is not a country and therefore it is not the court’s place, also according to its own rules, to carry out an examination like this,”Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke issued a statement Friday saying the US “strongly disagreed” with the ICC’s action.
“As we have said repeatedly, we do not believe that Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC,” Rathke said. “It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC.”
But the US and Israel are increasingly isolated in their positions; 135 countries have recognized Palestine as a state, and more are debating such a move.
Still, international recognition has come at a cost: Israel, which collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinians, froze $127 million in revenue — something it has done in the past — and US legislators introduced a bill to defund the Palestinian Authority until its leaders withdraw from the ICC.
Neither response was unexpected, Palestinian officials told VICE News.
“People feel that we should press ahead,” Ashrawi said. “We knew that there were going to be consequences. We knew that Israel would respond to our attempt to create accountability with even more crimes, like withholding our own money.”
The repercussions will have consequences for a “state” that is both deeply dependent on foreign aid and effectively at the mercy of its occupier to carry out its day-to-day operations. But some say Palestine is being punished for seeking a nonviolent, diplomatic route to end the conflict — a strategic move designed to call out what is perceived as hypocrisy by Israel and its supporters.