[News] War crimes for votes

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sat Mar 27 12:52:30 EDT 2021


https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/war-crimes-votes War
crimes for votes

Maureen Clare Murphy
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/maureen-clare-murphy> - 26 March 2021
------------------------------

Demonstrators block a bulldozer to prevent home demolitions in Khan
al-Ahmar in 2018.
ActiveStills

On the eve of Israel’s elections on Tuesday, several candidates were
interviewed <https://twitter.com/EpshtainItay/status/1373987706645184521>
during a live broadcast at Khan al-Ahmar
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/khan-al-ahmar>, pledging to destroy
the Palestinian village.

It wasn’t the first time that an Israeli politician made a campaign promise
to raze Khan al-Ahmar and forcibly transfer its residents.

In 2019, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, considered
demolishing the village
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/tamara-nassar/netanyahu-use-demolition-khan-al-ahmar-votes>
before the elections that year because he thought it “would certainly help”
him at the polls.

One year prior, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/international-criminal-court> warned
Israel that its planned eviction of Khan al-Ahmar would constitute a war
crime
<https://www.icc-cpi.int/pages/item.aspx?name=181017-otp-stat-palestine>.

The ICC formally opened
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/icc-launches-palestine-war-crimes-probe>
an investigation into alleged war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
earlier this month. Israel’s settlement enterprise, for which it seeks to
destroy Khan al-Ahmar, is a primary focus of the probe.
Courting the settler vote

The specter of an indictment at The Hague did not deter Israeli lawmakers
from openly admitting their intent to perpetrate war crimes on Monday. And
the Khan al-Ahmar spectacle was just one example of Israeli leaders
courting the vote of West Bank settlers.

(Palestinians living in the same territory cannot, of course, vote in the
elections of the state which rules over them.)
On Monday, Netanyahu was in Revava, where he attended
<https://www.timesofisrael.com/a-day-before-election-netanyahu-courts-settler-vote/>
a cornerstone-laying event inaugurating a new neighborhood in the West Bank
settlement.

The transfer of Israel’s civilian population into occupied territory is a
violation of international law and a war crime.
Impunity

Israel has a narrow window of opportunity to seek deferral
<https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/icc-israel-month-seek-deferral-war-crimes-probe-76540102>
of an ICC investigation by demonstrating that it is investigating the
alleged crimes identified by the court.

There is little to no reason to believe that Israel will engage in good
faith with the ICC.

Instead, its highest-ranking members of government and the military are
flaunting their endorsement and authorship of the policies that will
potentially be investigated. These leaders are seemingly assured that their
impunity will remain intact.
“I am responsible for the order to open fire,” Aviv Kohavi, the head of
Israel’s military, assured soldiers
<https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/idf-chief-of-staff-criticizes-icc-war-crimes-probe-of-israel-662717>
upon his return from a diplomatic tour of Europe
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/israel-seeks-european-help-scupper-war-crimes-probe>
last week.

The use of lethal force against unarmed protesters during Gaza’s Great
March of Return <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/great-march-return>
is, along with West Bank settlements, a primary focus of the ICC’s
investigation.

Kohavi and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited Austria, France and
Germany to campaign to undermine the court probe and negotiations with Iran.

Also recently returned from Europe is Riyad al-Malki, the Palestinian
Authority foreign minister. Al-Malki met with the ICC’s chief prosecutor in
The Hague last week.

When crossing back into the West Bank on Sunday, al-Malki and his aides
were interrogated <https://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/18082.html> by Israeli
occupation forces.

Officers, reportedly from the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic spy agency,
confiscated their VIP cards that exempt them from the severe movement
restrictions imposed on Palestinians in the West Bank.

Both Luxembourg and The Netherlands expressed concern over the retaliation
against al-Malki.

“The Netherlands is very invested in the fact that the ICC must be able to
carry out its work without interference,” a spokesperson for the Dutch
foreign ministry stated
<https://www.reuters.com/article/warcrimes-icc-palestinians-netherlands-i/netherlands-asks-israel-about-reported-confiscation-of-palestinian-ministers-travel-pass-idUSKBN2BF1NV>
.

Israel has threatened additional retaliation against the Palestinian
Authority for successfully petitioning the ICC.

“The Palestinian leadership has to understand there are consequences for
their actions,” Israeli media quoted
<https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/israel-warns-there-will-be-consequences-for-palestinian-actions-at-icc-662804>
an unnamed senior Israeli official as saying on Monday.

Among the “consequences” reportedly being considered are “sanctioning
Palestinian officials and blocking projects to further cooperation with the
PA.”

Palestinian human rights groups working with the ICC are meanwhile
“routinely faced with hostile measures of collective punishment from
Israel,” Al-Haq, one such organization, stated
<https://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/18082.html> this week.

These include “smears and death threats – all designed to foil, undermine
and deter Palestinian engagement with the ICC,” Al-Haq added.
Uphill battle for justice

A Palestine investigation may have been opened, but it will still be an
uphill battle for justice at the ICC – “the most difficult the court has
ever attempted,” according to
<https://www.justiceinfo.net/en/75228-ten-obstacles-icc-prosecutor-faces-investigating-palestine.html>
one Hague correspondent.

The court is overworked and under-resourced, with some states limiting the
ICC’s budget to curb the prosecutor’s reach.

Two-thirds of US Congress have signed on to a letter
<https://www.portman.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/portman-cardin-lead-bipartisan-senate-call-secretary-pompeo-defend-israel>
authored
by the Israel lobby group AIPAC
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/josh-ruebner/congress-enables-israeli-impunity-icc>
calling on the government to “defend Israel against politically motivated
investigations” by the ICC.

President Joe Biden has maintained the economic sanctions imposed by his
predecessor Donald Trump on the ICC prosecutor and members of her staff.

Trump’s executive order “punishes anyone, including experts like me, who
supports these ICC officials,” Leila Sadat, an advisor to the chief
prosecutor, has stated
<https://www.aclu.org/news/human-rights/unless-biden-acts-trumps-assault-on-human-rights-will-continue/>
.

The chilling effect also impacts “investigators, lawyers, victims,
witnesses, human rights defenders” and those who fund groups working with
the court, according to Susan Power, a legal researcher with Al-Haq.

She also warned that despite “EU commitment to the rule of law,” some
European member states of the ICC “may refuse to fulfill their Rome Statute
obligations of cooperation with the court.”

With such little political will to ensure accountability, it is little
wonder that Israeli electoral hopefuls broadcast their intentions to
violate international law on live TV for all the world to see.
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