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As Israel, Palestinians, Move War Zone to the Hague, Much Pain to Be Shared by All

Palestinian-chief-negotia-Saeb Erekat / Getty

On Friday, Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said in an interview with Ma’an that Palestine would become a member of the International Criminal Court by March. This implied that the next thing on the Palestinian agenda, once they’re accepted into this forum, would be to press war crime charges against individual Israeli officials and the state as a whole.

Erekat also said the Palestinian leadership was “reconsidering the totality of our relationship with Israel, including security coordination, ” a reference to the policy of the Palestinian authorities to withdraw its security forces when the IDF needs to enter areas under its control in pursuit of terrorists.

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Both those decisions may end up with painful unintended consequences to both sides, and, as is usually the case, the Palestinians may end up holding the short end of the stick.

On Saturday night, Israeli officials told AFP they were considering filing war crimes suits overseas against Palestinian leaders in response to their application to join the International Criminal Court and an official source said Saturday.

At the moment legal proceedings are being considered in U.S. and International courts against Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, his Palestinian Authority and other senior Palestinian officials.

According to the Israeli source, Abbas’ participation in a Palestinian consensus government with Hamas makes him responsible for rocket attacks from Gaza against civilians inside Israel—a war crime.

The U.S. is saying the Palestinian move to join the international criminal court is “counterproductive.” It’s probably true, although you can’t blame the Palestinians for brandishing the only sword they have left. It doesn’t look at this point as if a center-right Israeli coalition government that would be formed after the March elections will have an appetite for a new round of peace talks. And it doesn’t look as if a left-leaning coalition government is in the cards.

Typically, the Palestinians are doing everything they can to bolster Netanyahu’s political power, at a time when it appears to be waning, by threatening to humiliate Israel in international courts, and—even worse—by threatening to sabotage the IDF’s ability to maintain Israeli security against terrorism. If the Israeli left had its way, Abbas would be kissing Israeli babies instead of threatening to sue Netanyahu.



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