The impending war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court has prompted Israel to act diplomatically and otherwise to try and stop it. The Israeli government has ramped up its lobbying in an attempt to influence European politicians to oppose the ICC’s investigation. During a visit to Germany, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi advocated against the ICC decision.
“We trust that our European friends will stand by us in the important fight on the misuse of the International Criminal Court against our soldiers and civilians,” declared Rivlin.
Meanwhile, back in colonised and occupied Palestine, Israel’s internal security agency, Shin Bet, has revoked the VIP card of PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki. The minister was reportedly travelling back to the occupied West Bank from Jordan at the time, following a meeting with the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.An unnamed Israeli official admitted that the action was retaliation against the PA for its recourse to the ICC to obtain some semblance of justice for the Palestinian people. “Such actions are in line with the current relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” said the senior official. “This is why we decided there is no reason for Al-Maliki to enjoy privileges when he passes through border crossings.”
Media reports that Shin Bet confirmed it will persist in retaliatory intimidation against the PA shed light upon who is, in reality, making a political issue out of the ICC. For all its grievous shortcomings, and its abandonment of the Palestinian cause under the guise of purported pragmatism, the PA is in no position to politicise the ICC investigation. It cannot even politicise the two-state compromise, despite its adherence to it, due to the fact that the authority exists only as an extension of international diplomacy, functioning to extend Israel’s grasp over what remains of Palestine.
The PA has agreed to the ICC investigation of war crimes, placing itself under scrutiny, as has Hamas. Israel, however, has embarked upon a campaign of intimidation and securing of its allegiances, while attempting to sway political opinion away from the court’s scope, which is to determine culpability for the war crimes committed.
Israel holds sway over the international community when it comes to protecting its settler-colonial project. Likewise, the PA is mostly in the clutches of external actors who have hailed the Abraham Accords and the decades of normalising Israel which preceded the Trump administration’s diplomacy. The PA’s recourse to the ICC does not make its hierarchy an enemy of Israel, despite what the Israeli government would have us believe.
As such, the Israeli retaliatory gesture against Al-Maliki is a childish show of power over an entity that is already subjugated to waiting, as the Palestinian foreign minister himself has stated on several occasions. To resort to such blatant intimidation, however, suggests that Israel is not so emboldened when facing even the hypothetical prospect of justice for the Palestinians. The ICC’s investigation has the potential to identify culpability in the labyrinth of Israel’s settler-colonial violence which, if effected, will have an impact on the impunity it enjoys as designated by the UN.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.