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Tags: Michael Mukasey | ICC | Palestinians | US | Israel

Michael Mukasey: Palestinians Joining an ICC 'Hostile' to Israel, US

By    |   Monday, 12 January 2015 12:54 PM EST

The International Criminal Court's (ICC) newest member, the Palestinian Authority (PA), is likely to find a very friendly hearing if, and when, it attempts to bring war crimes charges against Israel.

That's because, according to former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, the world court already has shown strong bias against both Israel and the U.S., he writes in The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. and Israel both strongly opposed acceptance of the PA as a member of the court, but UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently announced that the ICC has accepted the PA's application for membership, effective April 1.

The PA made the move to join the ICC after a UN Security Council motion recognizing the PA as a state and ordering Israel to halt settlement construction and settle the state dispute with the PA within one year was defeated, NPR reports.

"The current chief prosecutor, Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda, appears hostile to both Israel and the U.S.," Mukasey wrote in the Journal, noting that Bensouda has stated she is "assessing available evidence" related to "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

He also notes that after Israel boarded the Mavi Marmara, a ship attempting to run an Israeli blockade, Israeli soldiers who were attacked and wounded opened fire and killed 10 blockade runners. After the ICC found that the Israelis acted in self-defense, Bensouda charged Israel with being an "occupying power," and said there was "reasonable basis" for an investigation of the "war crime" of "willful killing."

The PA's move to obtain membership in the ICC provoked the State Department's Jen Psaki to note that the PA is not a state and, thus, not eligible for membership, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Other moves are also underway. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, has introduced a bill to stop the $400 million annual funding given to the PA; Israel plans to halt its $127 million monthly payment to the PA from tax revenues; and a group of U.S. senators issued a warning to the PA that its "deplorable, counterproductive" move to join the ICC will be met with a "strong response," the Jerusalem Post reports.

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, Chuck Schumer, D-New York and Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, said in the letter: "Existing U.S. law makes clear that if the Palestinians initiate an ICC judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, all economic assistance to the PA must end.

"In light of this legal requirement, Congress will reassess its support for assistance to the PA and seek additional ways to make clear to President (Mahmoud) Abbas that we strongly oppose his efforts to seek membership in the ICC."

The senators added: "If the ICC makes the egregious mistake of accepting the Palestinian Authority as a member, given that it is not a state, Congress will seek ways to protect Israeli citizens from politically abusive ICC actions. Today there is no viable Palestinian state, and nothing will bring about that goal other than direct negotiations," the Jerusalem Post reported.

The U.S. and Israel are not among the 122 countries that accept ICC jurisdiction, the Journal notes.

"Despite facile claims — overseas, and even domestically — that they have committed war crimes, both the U.S. and Israel, as mature, functioning democracies, are obligated as sovereigns to protect their public servants and citizens," Mukasey said in the Journal. "Submitting to ICC jurisdiction would compromise those obligations for no more than an irresponsible beau geste.

"As to the Palestinian Authority and the ICC, it is no compliment to either to say that at this point they may deserve one another."

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The International Criminal Court's (ICC) newest member, the Palestinian Authority (PA), is likely to find a very friendly hearing if, and when, it attempts to bring war crimes charges against Israel.
Michael Mukasey, ICC, Palestinians, US, Israel
Monday, 12 January 2015 12:54 PM
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