According to an attorney involved in the case, the International Criminal Court’s decision to reject the Palestinian Authority’s request that Israel be investigated for war crimes in Gaza in 2009 may force a change in strategy for the PA at the highest levels of government.
“It’s going to cause them to re-asses their legal strategy. Anytime you suffer a defeat like this, you have to reassess your position and your strategy,” said Jay Sekulow, who worked in defense of the state of Israel in the ICC case.
The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor, led by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, rejected the PA’s request to investigate Israel for committing war crimes during the Gaza conflict, which lasted from December of 2008 to January of 2009, because “Palestine” is not a state, meaning the ICC has no jurisdiction to proceed with an investigation.
“The ICC, which was heavily lobbied by the PA and the Arab League, still found there was no jurisdiction,” Sekulow told The Algemeiner.
“There are literally thousands of pages of briefs that have been filed on this case. We had a private presentation before the prosecutor and I was one of the oral advocates at the public presentation, and the end results were that I think we saw there was significant legal authority, globally, supporting Israel.”
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes during the Gaza conflict. The infamous Goldstone Report published by the United Nations, accused Hamas and Israel of committing war crimes during the conflict, although Richard Goldstone, the report’s main author, questioned the validity of the claims included in his report after it was published.
According to Sekulow, the ICC’s decision in favor of Israel closes the book on this case, which “should be off the docket for the ICC.”
Those lobbying on behalf of the Palestinian Authority were clearly frustrated.
“There’s no domestic remedy for Palestinians to seek justice here. There’s nothing before Palestinians except to search for justice outside. The most important body for us was the ICC,” said Shawan Jabarin, a representative of the Palestinian organization al-Haq, which lobbied on behalf of the Palestinians in the ICC case.
The case drew lawyers from around the world, with Israel’s interests represented by attorneys from the United Kingdom, Poland, Canada, the United States, France, and Germany. The PA was represented by attorneys from Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy and others.
According to Sekulow, which worked on behalf of the American Center for Law and Justice, in conjunction with the European Centre for Law and Justice, the Palestinian Authority’s recent tactics in major international forums have fallen short of success.
“You have two major setbacks in less than one year, the United Nations statehood bid and this. This shows that their lawfare strategy in the leading international criminal tribunal was a complete failure,” he said.