Palestinians to Seek War Crimes Tribunal After UN Setback

Palestinians applied to join the International Criminal Court and other global bodies, in a defiant move a day after the United Nations Security Council rejected a resolution requiring Israel to withdraw from territories it captured more than four decades ago.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, at a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee in Ramallah, vowed to pursue his people’s campaign for statehood internationally after peace negotiations with Israel stalled.

Yesterday’s defeat “isn’t the first and won’t be the last, and we will carry on until we gain our rights,” Abbas said in comments broadcast on official Palestinian television. He has said in the past that he would seek war-crime charges against Israel before the international court.

“Those who need to be concerned about the International Criminal Court is the Palestinian Authority that formed a unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization that, like Islamic State, commits war crimes,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an e-mailed statement.

The U.S. also condemned the Palestinian move.

“Today’s action is entirely counterproductive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement. “It badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”

UN Vote

The UN resolution, introduced by Jordan, failed by a vote of 8-2 in the Security Council yesterday, falling one short of the nine needed for approval. The U.S. and Australia voted against the measure, while five nations on the 15-member council abstained.

The resolution, which Israel had condemned and the U.S. promised to veto, was a largely symbolic move by Arab states to bolster Abbas, who’s under domestic political pressure to fight for statehood after the U.S. effort to revive negotiations with Israel collapsed earlier this year.

The measure called for a negotiated peace deal within 12 months that would create two contiguous independent states based on the borders that existed before the 1967 war, modified by agreed-upon land swaps. Israel would have been required to withdraw from occupied territories by the end of 2017.

2012 Ruling

Before the UN vote, the Palestinians had said that, in the event of a defeat, they would pursue their statehood campaign by joining some of the hundreds of international organizations and treaties that opened to them after the UN General Assembly voted to recognize an “observer state” of Palestine in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in November 2012.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, while retaining, along with Egypt, control of its borders. The territory is now controlled by Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the U.S., European Union and Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said on his Facebook page that the UN resolution’s failure “should teach the Palestinians that provocations and attempts to impose unilateral measures on Israel won’t win them anything.”

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power faulted the resolution as offering “unconstructive deadlines that take no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”

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