Last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda employed rhetoric that questioned, rather than affirmed, Israel's violence against Palestinians participating in the Great Return March as constituting a war crime. True to form, the Palestinian Authority's Foreign Minister, Riad Al-Maliki, is approaching the ICC with a request to press charges against Israel's settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.
Combining the incompetence of both entities when it comes to taking a stance against human rights violations, it is obvious that nothing substantial is expected to come out of this charade. If the proposal is accepted by the ICC, it will join the other pending "plans" to investigate Israeli violence, such as that which occurred during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Meanwhile, Israel remains free to expand its colonial enterprise and displace Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, knowing full well that any hypothetical outcome is well beyond a visible horizon. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) can also kill and maim Palestinians because the international community has determined unequivocally, against its own legislation, that the Palestinians are not allowed to carry out their anti-colonial struggle and legitimate resistance against the Israeli occupation. As a result, the impediments imposed upon Palestinians have exonerated Israel's premeditated violence and the ICC is not about to alter the status quo, no matter how many requests it receives.
One of Bensouda's comments from last week, as reported by the Times of Israel, urged "all those concerned to refrain from further escalating this situation and the Israel Defence Forces to avoid excessive use of force."
The differentiation used in the sentence implies Palestinians have instigated violence, while the IDF responded to such purported threats. If the ICC is "vigilantly" monitoring the protests, it stands to reason that part of the vigilance includes an awareness of Israel's well-publicised intent to place snipers at the border to kill Palestinians. Moreover, the ICC team would also have knowledge about the atrocities committed by Zionist paramilitaries to ethnically cleanse Palestine and replace its identity and people with a settler-colonial entity.
Of course, the PA is not aiming for any tangible achievement in its approach. Neither is it a novel tactic that would, at the very least, deter Israel even for a brief period. It should be seen for what it is; a continuation of overtures to the international community that satisfy public diplomacy while refuting any notion of accountability.
Besides the criticism associated with the institution regarding its selectivity in prosecution, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas added to the game playing in past years with repeated threats to access the ICC, thus diluting any possible effects by giving Israel enough time to proceed with its colonial project. By the time a decision was reached, Gaza had already been destroyed and Palestinian territory dwindled further, to the point that one is excused for asking what the PA is presiding over.
Renewed attempts to involve the ICC should not be construed as intent to seek justice; rather it is just another conforming step which serves two converging interests. It satisfies the human rights arena by resorting to the appropriate – within the corrupt definition of the term – institutions, while ensuring that justice for Palestinians will not only be delayed, but destined to disappear altogether.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.