PA head Mahmoud Abbas. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90 (Issam Rimawi/Flash90
Mahmoud Abbas

The Palestinians have launched a new stage of diplomatic warfare, trying to drag Israel to a war crimes tribunal. Cutting off their noses despite their faces? 

After the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) failure on Tuesday to push through their bid for statehood at the UN Security Council, the PA is playing its next card of diplomatic warfare against Israel.

The Palestinians intend to join as many international organizations as possible in which they can continue to hound Israel. They further hope to gain a stronger international status through membership in these groups.

PA head Mahmoud Abbas signed a request to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as applications for membership in 20 other international conventions.

The PA hopes that an ICC membership would enable it to persecute Israeli officials for alleged war crimes committed against Arabs.

The Palestinian observer at the UN, Riyad Mansour, was supposed to have submitted the signed treatises on Wednesday, but a diplomat told Reuters that the submission had been delayed until the end of the week.

PA United with Hamas Terrorists

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the Palestinian move by pointing out the irony: “It is the Palestinian Authority – which is in a unity government with Hamas, an avowed terrorist organization that, like ISIS [Islamic State terror organization], perpetrates war crimes – that needs to be concerned about the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”

Netanyahu did not seem to be deterred by the PA move, vowing: “We will take steps in response and we will defend the soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world. We will rebuff this additional attempt to force diktat on us just like we rebuffed the Palestinian appeal to the UN Security Council.”

The U.S. condemned the Palestinian diplomatic belligerence, calling the move an escalation. ”We are deeply troubled by today’s Palestinian action regarding the ICC. It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Wednesday. “Today’s action is entirely counter-productive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state. It badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”

Complaint Already Lodged Against Abbas at ICC

Shurat Hadin (Israel Law Center), an NGO that combats terrorism through the use of international law, announced in November its formal request that the ICC prosecutor open an investigation into war crimes committed by Abbas during Operation Protective Edge.

The NGO’s basis for the indictment is reports of war crimes committed by Abbas’s Fatah movement during Operation Protective Edge. Fatah reportedly fired multiple rockets from Gaza at Israeli civilian targets, fighting alongside Hamas.

Shurat Hadin asserts that Abbas, as head of Fatah, bears responsibility for its actions, as “he is their responsible superior exercising effective command and control over them.”

Putting Themselves on the Stand

The Palestinians themselves are well aware that this move is counterproductive and damaging, first and foremost to themselves.

The Palestinian delegate to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Ibrahim Khreisheh, admitted in July that Hamas is committing war crimes by firing rockets into Israel from PA-controlled areas.

Responding to a question about the Palestinian demand to appeal to the ICC against Israel, Khreisheh responded: “The missiles that are now being launched against Israel, each and every missile, constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or missed, because it is directed at civilian targets…Therefore, targeting civilians, be it one civilian or a thousand, is considered a crime against humanity.”

Khreisheh conceded that Israel’s mode of operation in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge did not constitute war crimes: “Please note that many of our people in Gaza appeared on TV and said that the Israeli army warned them to evacuate their homes before bombardment. In such a case, if someone is killed, the law considers it a mistake rather than intentional killing, because [the Israelis] followed the legal procedures.”

He goes on to say that Hamas, firing from PA-controlled areas, does not warn civilians before firing and by doing so is committing a war crime: “As for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall, or about the operation we carry out.”

“Therefore, people should know more before they talk emotionally about appealing to the ICC,” the envoy concludes.

By: Aryeh Savir,
Staff Writer, United with Israel 

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PA head Abbas and Hamas leader Haniyeh together.

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