Int’l Criminal Court Decision on ‘Palestine’ Is a Victory for Israel and a Defeat for Amnesty International (CNS) CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE) By Patrick Goodenough 04/04/12)
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(CNSNews.com) – A decision by the International Criminal Court
rebuffing the Palestinian Authority’s attempt to have Israel put on
trial for war crimes is a setback not only for the P.A. but also for
a so-called “lawfare” campaign waged by some non-governmental
One of those NGOs, Amnesty International, called Tuesday’s decision
by the ICC prosecutor’s office “dangerous” and charged that it opened
the tribunal to charges of political bias.
Organizations that supported Israel’s position, on the other hand,
argued that it was the P.A. that had sought to politicize the court
in The Hague by seeking its decision on jurisdiction in the first
“This is a major victory for Israel in the international arena and a
sound defeat for the unfounded ‘lawfare’ attack leveled against
Israel,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel at the American Center for
Law and Justice (ACLJ).
“What’s clear is that this legal assault against Israel not only
lacked jurisdiction, but amounted to nothing more than an
international campaign to discredit and demonize Israel,” he said.
The ACLJ and its Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice
affiliate made a number of submissions to the ICC prosecutor’s office
arguing that “Palestine” did not meet legal criteria for statehood,
and also met twice with the prosecutor.
“Lawfare” is a term used – primarily by critics – to describe efforts
by activists to use international law to bring claims against states,
for example attempts to have visiting Israeli political or military
leaders arrested in Europe under universal jurisdiction statutes.
On Tuesday, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that his
office lacked the authority to determine whether the P.A. self-rule
area constitutes a “state.” Under the treaty that established the
international tribunal, the 1998 Rome Statute, only states (or the
U.N. Security Council) may file actions.
The P.A. in 2009 unilaterally declared that it was recognizing the
ICC’s authority for “acts committed on the territory of Palestine
since 1 July 2002.”
The move, amounting to an official request that ‘Palestine” be
considered a state for the purposes of ICC jurisdiction, was a first
step towards bringing war crimes complaints against Israel arising
out of the 2008-2009 war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
During a lengthy subsequent process of examining whether the P.A.
declaration met statutory requirements, the ICC received submissions
from organizations and academics coming down on both sides of the
argument, including the ACLJ/ECLJ in opposition, and the Palestinian
rights group Al-Haq in support.
In his decision, Moreno-Ocampo effectively ceded the matter
to “competent organs” of the U.N., or countries that are parties to
the ICC, saying that should they resolve the legal issue then his
office “could in the future consider allegations of crimes committed
Amnesty International said Tuesday the prosecutor should have handed
the case over to the tribunal’s judges for a ruling.
“This dangerous decision opens the ICC to accusations of political
bias and is inconsistent with the independence of the ICC,” said
Marek Marczynski, head of the advocacy group’s international justice
“Despite Amnesty International’s calls and a very clear requirement
in the ICC’s statute that the judges should decide on such matters,
the prosecutor has erroneously dodged the question, passing it to
other political bodies,” he said.
The Jerusalem-based group NGO Monitor, which earlier also submitted a
legal brief to the ICC prosecutor opposing the P.A. bid, called
Tuesday’s decision “a key defeat for NGO ‘lawfare’ in the Arab-
The group’s legal advisor, Anne Herzberg, said that a group of
European-funded NGOs had campaigned at the ICC in support of the
P.A.’s political goals, exploiting a tribunal that had been “created
to punish the worst perpetrators of war crimes and mass murder.”
“The fact that the case even proceeded this far was clear legal
overreaching, but it shows the strength of NGOs that lead the de-
legitimization and demonization campaigns against Israel,” she said.
Herzberg hailed the prosecutor’s decision. “International arenas are
routinely hijacked for political purposes, but today’s decision was
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday that as far
as she was aware, the U.S. government “did not take any position” on
the case. (copyright 1998-2012 Cybercast News Service 04/04/12)
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