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  • January 30, 2013

    No self respecting international lawyer would agree with this NYT article

    By Ted Belman

    Why Palestine Should Take Israel to Court in The Hague published by the NYT, is predicated on this statement: “The I.C.C. could prosecute major international crimes committed on Palestinian soil anytime after the court’s founding on July 1, 2002.” But that statement is totally erroneous for the following reasons:

    There is no “Palestinian soil”,

    According to E Kontorovich:
    - The ICC prosecutes people not countries; thus no immunity.
    - the ICC can only act when the home state refuses to investigate; that is not the case for any Israeli acts in Gaza, etc.
    - “ICC has never prosecuted a case referred by a country against nationals of a non-member state. Such an action would terrify US officials and permanently sour American relations with the Court, as it would expose U.S. military and civilian officials to liability for U.S. armed action anywhere in the world, and particulalry for the controversial drone strikes program of Pres. Obama.
    - The ICC has never even played with taking a case that does not involve killing and personal violence; a settlements suit would be far outside the kind of things they’ve dealt with
    - The relevant actions would have to be on the territory of Palestine, which is a problem since they do not have defined territory, and most of what the oped talks about precedes their nominal statehood, so would be out of bounds.
    - The ICC would also have jurisdiction over all Palestinian war crimes


    Anne Hertzberg, NGO Monitor writes:
    - presecutions depend on the “gravity”
    - “The cases mentioned by Bisharat in Gaza, to the extent the Court has jurisdiction nowhere near approach the number of causalities as most of the other situations the Court is dealing with and that’s before you even litigate these incidents on the merits in terms of whether they violated distinction or proportionality. The Prosecutor’s decision not to open a case on NATO conduct in Iraq is a good precedent as are several decisions coming out of the ICTY (even if they aren’t binding).”

    Kontorovich adds:
    “no int crim court has ever touched
    “non-GRAVE breaches of the geneva conventions” which is what settlements are.” – “normal measure of gravity is # of dead victims. w/settlements, no dead, and by ICC’s own definition of victims, no victims.”

    Avi Bell adds

    Gravity of crimes is textually defined in the relevant treaties.

    Grave breaches are defined in article 147 of GC IV as breaches as “wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” and that only if “committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention.”

    The claimed violation of “settlements” is transfer of the “occupying power’s” citizens who are, by definition, not persons protected by GC IV.

    Grave breaches are similarly defined in the Rome Statute, and article 8 includes the alleged “settlements” crime of transfer under the category of “other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict” rather than “grave breaches”

    Therefore it is suggested:
    1) DO NOT FREAK OUT WHEN ARABS THREATEN ICC ACTION: ie, don’t say, “Oh No! Not the ICC! Now we’re screwed!” This makes you look quilty.

    2) Rather say: ICC? It has absolutely no jurisdiction here. This is totally detached from actual international law. Anyway, we’re not afraid because we have done nothing wrong, and the Pals have a ton of war crimes to answer for.

    3) We have not turned to international justice mechanisms ourselves because we wish to pursue peace negotiations; and you can’t negotiate and litigate at the same time. We are deeply disappointed that the Palestinians seem ready to embark on a course the precludes negotiations.

    Why Palestine Should Take Israel to Court in The Hague

    By GEORGE BISHARAT, NYT

    LAST week, the Palestinian foreign minister, Riad Malki, declared that ifIsrael persisted in its plans to build settlements in the currently vacant area known as E-1, which lies between Palestinian East Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, “we will be going to the I.C.C.,” referring to the International Criminal Court. “We have no choice,” he added.

    The Palestinians’ first attempt to join the I.C.C. was thwarted last April when the court’s chief prosecutor at the time, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, declined the request on the grounds that Palestine was not a state. That ambiguity has since diminished with the United Nations’ conferral of nonmember state status on Palestine in November. Israel’s frantic opposition to the elevation of Palestine’s status at the United Nations was motivated precisely by the fear that it would soon lead to I.C.C. jurisdiction over Palestinian claims of war crimes.

    Israeli leaders are unnerved for good reason. The I.C.C. could prosecute major international crimes committed on Palestinian soil anytime after the court’s founding on July 1, 2002.

    Since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, the Israel Defense Forces, guided by its military lawyers, have attempted to remake the laws of war by consciously violating them and then creating new legal concepts to provide juridical cover for their misdeeds. For example, in 2002, an Israeli F-16 dropped a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in a densely populated Gaza neighborhood, killing a Hamas military leader, Salah Shehadeh, and 14 others, including his wife and seven children under the age of 15. In 2009, Israeli artillery killed more than 20 members of the Samouni family, who had sought shelter in a structure in the Zeitoun district of Gaza City at the bidding of Israeli soldiers. Last year, Israeli missiles killed two Palestinian cameramen working for Al Aksa television. Each of these acts, and many more, could lead to I.C.C. investigations.

    The former head of the Israeli military’s international law division, Daniel Reisner, asserted in 2009: “International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal molds. Eight years later it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy.”

    Colonel Reisner is right that customary international law is formed by the actual practice of states that other states accept as lawful. But targeted assassinations are not widely accepted as legal. Nor are Israel’s other attempted legal innovations.

    Israel has categorized military clashes with the Palestinians as “armed conflict short of war,” instead of the police actions of an occupying state — thus freeing the Israeli military to use F-16 fighter jets and other powerful weaponry against barely defended Palestinian populations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    It has designated individuals who fail to leave a targeted area after a warning as “voluntary human shields” who are therefore subject to lawful attack, despite the fact that warnings may not be effective and escape routes not clear to the victims.

    And it has treated civilian employees of Hamas — including police officers, judges, clerks, journalists and others — as combatants because they allegedly support a “terrorist infrastructure.” Never mind that contemporary international law deems civilians “combatants” only when they actually take up arms.

    All of these practices could expose Israeli political and military officials to prosecutions for war crimes. To be clear, the prosecutions would be for particular acts, not for general practices, but statements by Israeli officials explaining their policies could well provide evidence that the acts were intentional and not mere accidents of war.

    No doubt, Israel is most worried about the possibility of criminal prosecutions for its settlements policy. Israeli bluster notwithstanding, there is no doubt that Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal. Israeli officials have known this since 1967, when Theodor Meron, then legal counsel to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and later president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, wrote to one of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s aides: “My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

    Under the founding statute of the I.C.C., grave violations of the Geneva Conventions, including civilian settlements in occupied territories, are considered war crimes.

    The next step for the Palestinians is to renew a certificate of accession to the I.C.C. with the United Nations secretary general. Assuming that I.C.C. jurisdiction is accepted, investigations of alleged Israeli war crimes would still not begin automatically, because the I.C.C. must next find that Israel’s own courts are failing to adequately review those charges. Palestinians, by inviting I.C.C. investigations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, also run the risk that their own possible violations — such as deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians — could come under I.C.C. scrutiny.

    If Palestinians succeed in getting the I.C.C. to examine their grievances, Israel’s campaign to bend international law to its advantage would finally be subjected to international judicial review and, one hopes, curbed. Israel’s dangerous legal innovations, if accepted, would expand the scope of permissible violence to previously protected persons and places, and turn international humanitarian law on its head. We do not want a world in which journalists become fair game because of their employers’ ideas.

    If the choice is between a Palestinian legal intifada, in which arguments are hashed out in court, and an actual intifada, in which blood flows in the streets, the global community should encourage the former.

    Indeed, Palestinians would be doing themselves, Israelis and the global community a favor by invoking I.C.C. jurisdiction. Ending Israel’s impunity for its clear violations of legal norms would both promote peace in the Middle East and help uphold the integrity of international law.

    George Bisharat is a professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.

     

  • Posted by Ted Belman @ 10:15 pm | 8 Comments »

    8 Comments to No self respecting international lawyer would agree with this NYT article

    1. CuriousAmerican says:

      No sane lawyer would try it.

      Israel could outsue the Palestinians.

    2. Bernard Ross says:

      We have not turned to international justice mechanisms ourselves because we wish to pursue peace negotiations; and you can’t negotiate and litigated at the same time.

      why can’t you litigate and negotiate at the same time? Perhaps the mistake started here, letting the terrorists get away with their crimes.

      1) DO NOT FREAK OUT WHEN ARABS THREATEN ICC ACTION: ie, don’t say, “Oh No! Not the ICC! Now we’re screwed!” This makes you look guilty.

      a little late. what makes Israel look guilty is never stating that Jews have an internationally guaranteed right to settle the west bank. even in the current event of Israel not claiming sovereignty over YS it is still obligated as the current administrator of the territory. the state of Israel has violated its trust to the Jewish people for the perceived interests of passing govts. and individuals. when one does not claim a debt it is assumed that they are not owed. what is needed is to state that the desire for peace made Israel consider giving up some territory which is Israels by right and that now it is proven that the paradigm of land for peace does not bring peace. therefore, Israel abandons land for peace and either extends Israeli sovereignty by annexation or continues the dispute over the land but fulfills its obligation to settle Jews. the war crime that Israel has committed is against the Jewish people by obstructing its own people from settlement and religious sites. Israel thinks it is wily by employing a policy of vagueness and yet most fo the negative situation has arisen from Israels vagueness. the damage to Israels image has been done and there is no reason to cause further damage to the rights of Jews.

    3. Bernard Ross says:

      the simple reaction is that Israel is not an occupying force as the land belongs to israel. annexation will end the question marks.

    4. dweller says:

      “[T]here is no doubt that Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal… Israel’s dangerous legal innovations, if accepted, would expand the scope of permissible violence to previously protected persons and places, and turn international humanitarian law on its head.”

      A charming turn of phrase. Wonder what inspired it. Let’s see now: The bio squib at the end of Mr Bisharat’s piece characterizes the gentleman as a “professor at the Univ of California’s Hastings College of the Law.”

      Hmmm. Guess who else taught there (among other places, like Harvard Law, etc)?

      — the 20th century’s foremost authority on Jus Gentium: the Law of Nations — Prof. Julius Stone [1907-85]:

      “[T]he establishment of a Jewish national home, if not ‘the soul of the Mandate’ (as stated in the {League of Nations’} Permanent Mandates Commission in 1935), was at least its ‘primary purpose.’ A demand that this territory be kept judenrein would be a gross travesty of this legal position, turning international law on its head

      [Julius Stone, Israel and Palestine: Assault on the Law of Nations (John Hopkins U. Press, Washington, DC, 1981), Discourse 2, p. 181]

      “If the choice is between a Palestinian legal intifada, in which arguments are hashed out in court, and an actual intifada, in which blood flows in the streets, the global community should encourage the former.”

      A crude, not-very-well-veiled threat.

      “Indeed, Palestinians would be doing themselves, Israelis and the global community a favor by invoking I.C.C. jurisdiction.”

      Oh, is that what it would be! — maybe we should even thank them for it?

      I’d have a somewhat more concrete proposal for Prof Bisharat about now

      — but I’m afraid that, while most satisfying to YoursTruly, it would, literally speaking, amount to an anatomical impossibility. . . . know what I mean?

    5. k O ntorovich.

      O not A

    6. Laura says:

      Not surprising that the vile NY slimes would egg on these annihilationists. Leave it to the NY slimes to always side with the Jewish state’s would-be executioners. Israel has far greater justification to sue the “palestinians” for war crimes.

    7. Honey Bee says:

      @ yamit82:

      My Dad had an aged “shirt tail “relative that shot and killed his buisness partner,Hoffman The shooter had serious heart problems so when he was convicted of murder he was placed in the prison hospital unit. My Dad visit the old guy, he was sitting on the bed in a hospital gown and said,” Look what Hoffman did to me.”
      Went on our trip.a place haven’t been in a long while, and surprise to see all the pump-jack in the fields. Only one tower, then I am told rigs and crews are scarce.

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