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Palestine, the ICC and international complicity

April 2, 2015 at 3:21 pm

‘As Palestine formally becomes a State Party to the Rome Statute today, the world is also a step closer to ending a long era of impunity and injustice’ is Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki’s triumphant statement. However, he fails to reflect the reality behind the ceremonial accession that was replete with the usual diplomatic jargon reflecting the international community’s attitude towards Palestine.

According to al-Maliki speaking on the Voice of Palestine Radio and as quoted on the Times of Israel, ‘I don’t want to disappoint our people, but the ICC procedures are slow and long and might face lots of obstacles and challenges and might take years.’

During the ceremony, the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Statute Sidiki Kaba stated, ‘such highly symbolic commitment confirms, once again, that people all over the world embrace the noble ideals of the ICC, which are ideals of peace and justice for all.’

‘Peace and justice for all’ within international rhetoric remains highly susceptible to allegiances. Palestine’s accession to the ICC within the parameters of international law will bolster its legitimacy within the same framework that attempts to undermine the necessity of the anti-colonial struggle and liberation. The court’s lack of impartiality, bureaucracy, as well as the inherent international political bias in favour of Israel may well provide the settler-colonial state with further opportunities to perfect its violent methods upon the Palestinian population in terms of massacre, displacement and expansion.

Israel has long voiced its opposition and displeasure to the PA’s belated gesture. However, as with other statements voiced by Israel, such as the recent annoyance displayed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon at ‘unilateral Palestinian moves’ accession to the ICC is unlikely to hinder Israel’s belligerence. This is because it is within the wider framework of international complicity in colonial violence.

Hence, al-Maliki’s comments about eradicating impunity and injustice are, at best, vague connotations. Away from the ICC, which is another institution that will ultimately impose other restrictions upon Palestinian legitimacy, the international community remains entrenched within its protection of Israel through the endorsement of the two-state compromise. France is drafting a UN Security Council resolution which once again seeks to undermine Palestinian prospects for liberation by reiterating the importance of negotiations. According to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, ‘obviously the two parties must discuss but the discussion must be backed by an international effort.’

As an extension of the United Nations and the International Law Commission – the latter having been invited by the UN General Assembly to ‘study the desirability and possibility of establishing an international judicial organ for the trials of persons charged with genocide’, the ICC is another body created by perpetrators of violence to purportedly establish justice within the international arena. Questions should be asked as to within which parameters will justice for Palestinians be carried out, the extent to which international complicity in maintaining Israel’s colonial violence will be shielded, as well as the international community’s predictable assurances, through the UN, of ensuring that Israel reaps other benefits to soothe the apparent affront of Palestinians seeking legal recourse.

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