By Morton A. Klein
(NOVEMBER 29, 2021 / South Florida Sun-Sentinel) The Palestinian Authority (PA) employs multiple heinous, illegal, immoral methods in its war to destroy the Jewish state. Those methods include violence (inciting and paying terrorists to murder Jews); economic warfare (anti-Israel boycotts); propaganda (demonizing Jews and Israel with countless blood libels); and “lawfare” – filing fake “war crimes” claims against Israel in the biased “legal” forums such as the politicized “International Criminal Court” (ICC).
In February, the ICC decided to move forward with investigating Israel, in a case filed by the PA misleadingly entitled, “the Situation in Palestine” – despite the ICC’s lack of jurisdiction and lack of any basis for this investigation.
Then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the ICC’s perverse antisemitic decision, explaining:
“When the International Criminal Court investigates Israel for fake war crimes – this is pure antisemitism. The court that was established to prevent atrocities like the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish people is now targeting the one state of the Jewish people. First, it outrageously claims that when Jews live in our homeland, this is a war crime. Second, it claims that when democratic Israel defends itself against terrorists who murder our children and rocket our cities – we are committing another war crime. Yet the ICC refuses to investigate brutal dictatorships like Iran and Syria, who commit horrific atrocities almost daily.”
Unfortunately, in March, the Biden administration aided the PA’s lawfare, by repealing the previous administration’s sanctions against the ICC. The Biden administration should reverse course and re-impose sanctions against the ICC to stop the ICC’s illegitimate, expanding investigation of Israel for defending herself and for simply existing.
This is not merely an arcane legal matter: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained that ICC prosecutions are political persecutions by unaccountable “judges,” without due process, based on hearsay evidence, that make a mockery of justice. The ICC investigation could lead to arrest warrants, convictions, and jailing innocent Israelis who served in the IDF or the Israeli government. The ICC could mete out similar horrors against the 800,000 Jews whom the PA tries to tar as “war criminals” for simply living in the Jewish homelands of Judea/Samaria and Jerusalem’s Old City and eastern suburbs. This would prevent many Israelis from traveling abroad.
The ICC investigation is completely illegitimate.
First, as the previous U.S. administration’s ICC fact sheet explained, the ICC has no jurisdiction over any of the 70 nations – including the U.S. and Israel – who are not parties to the Rome Statute (the treaty which created the ICC). The fact sheet noted: “It is a fundamental principle of international law that a treaty is binding only on its parties, and that it does not create obligations for non-parties without their consent.” Yet, the lawless ICC is illegitimately investigating non-party Israel, and illegitimately sought to investigate American counterterrorism personnel for allegedly perpetrating “war crimes” in Afghanistan.
Second, the Palestinian Authority is not a state, and therefore cannot be a party to the Rome Statute. The ICC cannot have lawful jurisdiction over claims filed by the non-existent “State of Palestine.” Eight nations that are legitimate parties to the Rome Statute – Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Uganda – filed amici briefs stating that the ICC does not have jurisdiction to investigate Israel because there is no state of “Palestine.” Similarly, the U.S., by then-Secretary Pompeo, objected to ICC jurisdiction because the Palestinians “do not qualify as a sovereign state.”
Yet, the ICC ignored reality and international law, and absurdly decided that it had jurisdiction to investigate the non-existent state of “Palestine”’s claims against non-party Israel. (Presiding ICC Judge Péter Kovács dissented from the ICC’s 2-to-1 ruling.)
Third, the PA’s ICC case arrogates areas of Israel – including much of Jerusalem – into a non-existent state of “Palestine.” The ICC decided that its jurisdiction extended to areas that the PA claims are “occupied” by Israel since 1967, including Gaza, Judea/Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem, where the Jewish people’s holiest sites are located. In fact, Israel is not an “occupier.” Gaza is under Hamas’ full control. And Israel has the lawful right under binding international law to Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria.
Fourth, the investigation’s time period began on June 13, 2014 – one day after Hamas kidnapped and murdered three Jewish teenagers, sparking the 2014 Hamas-Israeli war. Excluding the Israeli boys’ murder further confirms that the whole process is a sham.
Fifth, the ICC may expand its phony “war crimes” investigation to include Israel’s self-defense during May 10-21, 2021 (when Hamas launched 4,369 rockets at Israel). On May 12, the then-ICC prosecutor stated that she was recording ongoing Israeli actions that might be added to the “Situation in Palestine” war crimes case.
At a recent Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations meeting, Liz Berney, Esq. of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) asked Israeli Minister Ayelet Shaked, whether it would be helpful for American Jewish organizations and leaders to demand that the Biden administration should re-impose sanctions on the ICC. Minister Shaked agreed that pressing the administration to re-impose sanctions would be extremely helpful, and reminded the audience that the ICC is a political body – not a legitimate court.
The Palestinian Authority’s multi-pronged attacks on Israel means that we need to defend Israel on many fronts. It is important for all of us to combat lawfare – and to urge the Biden administration to do so by re-imposing sanctions on the ICC.
Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).
This op-ed was originally published in the Florida Sun Sentinel and can be viewed here.