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Accession to the ICC may well be meaningless

"It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighbourhoods, is now being scrutinised by the ICC." So said the US State Department's Jeff Rathke, who seems to have exhausted all creativity when it comes to finding reasons as to why Palestine's accession to the ICC in order to seek justice is, for Israel's supporters, unjust. The brief statement concluded with a final assertion denouncing "actions against Israel as counterproductive to the cause of peace."

Direct negotiations and the refusal to accept the existence of Palestine as a state are among the reasons cited by the Americans for their opposition to the PA's application to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). Senator Lindsey Graham declared with great pomposity that the move is "incredibly offensive" and has called for US aid to be stopped, a tactic already adopted by Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman upped the stakes by suggesting the withdrawal of financial support to the ICC as well. Speaking on Israel Radio, the far-right minister said, "We will demand of our friends in Canada, in Australia and in Germany simply to stop funding it." One reason given by Lieberman for the retaliation was that the ICC "represents no one"; it is, he claimed, "a political body."

According to the Jerusalem Post, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated arrogantly that the international legal system risks being dismantled if Israel is charged with war crimes.

As with other international structures, the existence of the ICC is representative of the hegemonic dominance that articulates the definition of terrorism and terrorist, and decides to whom the labels should be applied. Israel's impunity is determined by the same political structures that safeguard its illegality, so the ICC investigation into possible war crimes will most probably fail to yield any tangible results detrimental to Israel's colonial existence. However, the weak diplomatic threat authored belatedly by PA President Mahmoud Abbas will be utilised by Israel and the US in their efforts to maintain colonial domination through the dissemination of erroneous propaganda.

As things stand, Israel, together with the US, is attempting to deflect potentially uncomfortable scrutiny of its inherent violations using a combination of threats which, in turn, ensure the continuation of its colonial expansion and the further fragmentation of Palestinian territory. According to Washington and Tel Aviv, the absence of a "state", despite Palestine's upgrade at the UN in 2012 from observer entity to observer state, renders Palestine's accession to the Rome Statute irregular. However, the constant acquiescence to Israel by Palestine's internationally-recognised leaders dilutes the significance of such a move and exposes the difficulties of navigating through international institutions while assimilating to the narrative of the coloniser.

So far, Palestinian ventures in the international scene have been characterised by an adherence to the continuation of Israel's colonisation, including the latest accession to the Rome Statute as well as the repeated attempts to seek Palestinian statehood recognition at the UN Security Council; despite offering numerous compromises, that move was still rendered irrelevant. If the ICC upholds its unwritten policy of apparently only prosecuting individuals far removed from the pinnacle of power, Israel may be assured of yet another gratuitous, but ultimately meaningless, gesture to be interpreted within its own violent parameters.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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