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The ICC Runs Into the World’s Largest Powder House Waving A Torch

ICC 1By Shawn Macomber • Lawfare Tyranny

Over at the Daily Beast Andrew Novak lays out a persuasive list of reasons why Palestine is “unlikely to see results from an [International Criminal Court] prosecution for many years, if ever.”

“Palestine’s referral to the ICC is fraught with risks,” Novak writes. “The ICC may prosecute all parties to a conflict, and that includes Palestinian crimes as well as Israeli ones. The allegations that Hamas fighters used human shields and fired unstable rockets at civilian areas, if proven, almost certainly constitute war crimes. By contrast, allegations against Israel are much more complex, and largely matters of proportion: for instance, whether the Israeli military provided sufficient warning before attacking residential buildings or caused excessive collateral damage pursuing low-level Hamas fighters. The legality of Israeli settlements is the most complex question of all — and not one that the ICC Prosecutor or judges are well-placed to answer as experts in criminal law. This would be a mess.”

A mess? Business as usual for the ICC then!

Obviously Fatah leadership must have gamed out something approximating these scenarios.

So why proceed?

Simple. They divine — as others have before — that the ICC, while completely useless as an arbiter of global justice or engine of war crime deterrence, nevertheless possesses a cynical lust for power (as well as an utter disregard for both the chaos its fanatical megalomania spins off in its wake and the victims of that chaos) which makes it useful as a tool of war by other means.

The ICC’s supposed lofty mission is, in other words, completely irrelevant here — it is merely a device to incite the action in a new act of the tragedy that proceeded, and will almost certainly exceed, its existence.

And to puff itself up in the media and before its cosmopolitan internationalist supporters, the aspiring transnational behemoth is more than willing to run into the world’s largest powder house waving around a burning torch made of masturbatory press releases and meaningless legal briefs.

Again, Novak:

Palestine’s membership in the ICC likely has political motivations designed to extract concessions from Israel. If the threat of the ICC action spurs Israeli investigations of its own alleged misconduct, that alone could be a success from the Palestinian perspective. If a similar threat slows settlement activity or deters future Israeli military operations, these too could be successes.

Finally, Palestinian membership may be part of a domestic political chess game between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank. Fatah, the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, made the ICC referral, but Hamas was primarily responsible for the alleged Palestinian war crimes. Although Fatah would be loathe to admit it publicly, an ICC investigation into the Palestinian situation could be an effort by Fatah to strengthen its position against Hamas.

Ah, the supposed disinterested observer turns out to be yet another self-interested player to be spun, managed, and/or exploited.