February 24, 2020 | The Jerusalem Post

Palestinians and the ICC play a cruel game with international law

The Palestinians say they are merely pursuing justice but it is increasingly clear the Palestinians are using the court as a weapon.
February 24, 2020 | The Jerusalem Post

Palestinians and the ICC play a cruel game with international law

The Palestinians say they are merely pursuing justice but it is increasingly clear the Palestinians are using the court as a weapon.

The UN dominated the headlines last week when it released a database of 112 companies doing business in the West Bank. The intent was to encourage a boycott. However, the UN database is only a prelude to another, potentially more damaging measure: bringing Israel before the International Criminal Court for purported war crimes.

The ICC is investigating Israel’s conduct during the war it fought against Hamas in 2014, its response to violent protests in 2018-2019, and its building of Jewish communities in the disputed West Bank. In late December 2019, chief ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda found a “reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation” into alleged war crimes committed in territories controlled by Israel.

The Palestinians say they are merely pursuing justice but it is increasingly clear the Palestinians are using the court as a weapon. The Palestinian committee in charge of pursuing the case has 45 members. No less than 10 of them appear to have ties with terrorist groups. In other words, they are affiliated with groups whose raison d’etre is to conduct war crimes.

Ghazi Hamad, a senior official from the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hamas, serves as the spokesperson for the Supreme National Committee (SNC). Hamad has called for “small stabs” rather than large offensives to eliminate Israel. Committee chairperson Saeb Erekat has said that five other members of the committee are also Hamas members.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also enjoys representation in the committee. Designated a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union and others, the PFLP gained notoriety in the 1960s and ‘70s for high-profile hijackings and attacks on Israelis. The group assassinated an Israeli minister in 2001 and claimed responsibility for an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue in 2014 that left six dead, including three American rabbis.

According to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), SNC member Khalida Jarrar heads the PFLP in the West Bank and is responsible for many of the group’s activities. Israel arrested Jarrar in October 2019 in connection to the August bombing attack that killed Israeli teenager Rina Shnerb at a swimming pool near Dolev in the West Bank. An Israeli court in 2015 sentenced Jarrar to 15 months in jail for “inciting terrorism” by calling for the abduction of Israeli soldiers.

Shawan Jabarin, another member of the SNC, is reportedly a senior figure in the PFLP. He has been pushing the narrative of Israeli war crimes since at least 2017, when as head of the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq, he submitted to The Hague a 700-page dossier filled with wild allegations. In 2007, an Israeli Supreme Court justice described Jabarin as a “Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde,” heading an NGO while also belonging to the PFLP terrorist group.

Wasel Abu Yousef, the head of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) terrorist group, also sits on the SNC. The PLF is best known for its 1985 attack on the Italian cruise ship MS Achille Lauro, when it murdered Leon Klinghoffer, an elderly wheelchair-bound Jewish American and tossed his body overboard.

Abu Yousef also represents the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, itself comprised of several US-designated terrorist groups. In 2016, Abu Yousef praised terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, a woman responsible for the deaths of 38 Israelis (including 13 children) in the notorious 1978 “Coastal Road Massacre.” He has in other instances declared his direct support for violence against Israel.

The list of problematic members of the Supreme National Committee goes on. The committee reserves a seat for the Palestinian commission responsible for martyr payments, also known as “pay to slay,” which incentivizes the murder of Israelis by offering stipends that increase according to the heinousness of the crimes committed. Washington has withheld funding from the Palestinian Authority because it refuses to halt this terrible practice.

Israel’s military is by no means perfect. Mistakes are not uncommon on the battlefield. But the group behind this most recent effort to bring war-crimes charges against Israel is playing a cruel game with international law. Palestinian terrorist groups are deliberately committing war crimes while they launch war-crimes lawsuits against Israel at the ICC.

David May is a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSamuelMay. Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD.

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