The struggle for Palestine’s soul

International law is clear and unequivocal. Occupying powers have no sovereignty over territories they control.

They’re obligated to protect the rights and welfare of people they administer. Respect all laws in force prior to their occupation.

Under no circumstances may they administer occupied territories for their own self-interest. Destroy or confiscate private property.

Annex territories by force. Transfer their population to territories they control. Dispossess people living there.

Fail to comply with all international humanitarian and human rights laws. A late December judicial ruling shows what Palestinians face.

A Jerusalem judge acquitted a settler charged with illegally breaking through a checkpoint into Palestinian-controlled territory. Ruling it unacceptable to be discriminated against on the basis of religion.

Saying “no Israeli citizen should experience the degradation of discriminatory (restrictions on using) a road based on nationality, religion, race of ethnic appearance.”

Never once mentioning the world “Palestinian.” Excluding an entire population. Not acknowledging their existence.

An Israeli citizen can be acquitted of lawbreaking. Based on the principle of equality. In this case, breaking through a checkpoint into territory where he’s not allowed to go.

A Palestinian doing the same thing would be arrested. Maybe shot and killed. Reality in Occupied Palestine is two populations living daily lives under separate and unequal standards.

Jews alone have fundamental rights. Palestinians have none. Equality is pure fantasy. Israel maintains total control over their daily lives.

Including longstanding ruthless persecution. Targeted killings. Political imprisonments. Naked aggression at Israel’s discretion.

Denying Palestinians redress for its worst crimes. Including grave breaches of fundamental international laws. Daring to seek justice makes matters worse.

At year end, Abbas signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Asked the ICC to investigate Israeli war crimes. Retroactive to mid-June.

After three Israeli youths were killed, Israel launched Operation Brother’s Keeper. Over 220 incursions into Palestinian communities followed. Over 1,000 home raids.

Hundreds of arrests. Defenseless Palestinian civilians targeted. Including the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) speaker. Six of its members. No charges filed. No crimes committed.

In response to Palestine’s ICC petition, Israel froze $127 million in Palestinian tax revenues. Funds it collects in its behalf.

Supposed to have been transferred on Friday. Haaretz editors called it “revenge for daring to apply for membership in the International Criminal Court . . .”

With upcoming mid-March elections, Netanyahu intends demonstrating his toughness. A vote-getting strategy.

“Few things are more popular in Israel than making life harder for Palestinians,” Haaretz editors said. “[I]t’s impossible not to be outraged by the government’s response.”

“Revenge and punishment aren’t a policy. And they most certainly aren’t a smart policy.” Nor a legal one, Haaretz editors neglected to say.

Netanyahu plans further moves. Broader and more sweeping, he indicated. Meetings will be held this week to decide.

Saying “[t]he Palestinian Authority has chosen confrontation with Israel and we will not sit idly by.”

“We will not allow IDF soldiers and commanders to be hauled before the International Criminal Court in the Hague.”

“The ones who must give an accounting are the heads of the Palestinian Authority, who formed an alliance with the Hamas war criminals.”

“IDF soldiers will continue to defend the State of Israel with determination and might. Just as they defend us, we will protect them with that same determination and the same might.”

Blaming victims is longstanding US and Israeli policy. One rogue state supports another. Partners in the highest of high crimes.

Year end congressional legislation prohibits US financial aid if Palestinians petition the ICC to investigate criminal charges against Israel.

‘[O]r actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”

At stake is $400 million in annual US aid. On Sunday, a senior Israeli official said congressional members would be contacted to insure US legislation is enforced.

Cut off all aid to Palestinians. Suffocate them more than already. Make PA governance impossible.

On Sunday, Foreign Ministry Director-General Nissim Ben Shetrit promised sweeping Israeli actions in response to Palestine’s ICC petition.

Saying “Israel is about to switch from defense to attack mode.”

According to Reuters, PA UN ambassador Riyad Mansour delivered documents to UN headquarters. To join 22 international treaties.

Including the ICC. To pursue war crimes charges against Israel. To achieve “justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power.”

It takes up to 90 days to become an ICC member. According to YNet News, “[t]op official and legal experts confirm[ed] Palestinian plans to try and take Israel to the International Criminal Court . . .”

“First Palestinian ICC case to focus on Gaza war.” Chief Palestinian negotiator/longtime Israeli collaborator Saeb Erekat said documents pertaining to Israel’s illegal occupation would be submitted.

“The main files will be the aggression against Gaza and the settlement file, since this is a continuous crime,” he said.

Legal preparations are underway to act in early April. According to Al Haq director Shawan Jabarin, ICC-referred cases must be very specific with regard to geographic location and timeframe.

Reports suggest Israel may file countercharges against senior Palestinian officials. “[L]awsuits . . . backed up with [manufactured] evidence and affidavits can be filed” immediately.

Claiming so-called consensus governance makes Abbas complicit with so-called Hamas “attacks” on Israeli civilians.

Israeli legal officials said Palestine’s decision to join the ICC could be “a nuisance for Israel . . .” But won’t “yield any practical legal results.”

In response to Israel freezing Palestinian revenues, Erekat on Sunday said the PA is ready to dismantle itself. “[H]and the keys” back to Israel.

Saying “[t]his is our money, Palestinian money that the Israeli government collects in exchange for 3%.”

“This is collective punishment . . . [W])e will not be able to run our hospitals, our schools. People will not be able to get salaries.”

“They’re suffocating 4.5 million people. This is piracy and this is a real war crime.”

PLO leaders will address Netanyahu, “[T]elling him: Status quo no more. Either this Authority and partnership will take us from occupation to independence through peaceful means, or Israel—the occupying power—will resume its full responsibilities.”

“Next week or next month there will not be a Palestinian Authority. Israel will find itself responsible from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean, and you will find our kids running after your kids in refugee camps, as you did in 1992. That’s what it means.”

In October, Abbas threatened the same thing. Saying “[i]f all efforts fail, we will end relations with Israel and I will tell Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, ‘Come and take over.’”

“However, I will not dismantle the Palestinian Authority, and I will submit a request to join all the organizations belonging to the UN.”

Earlier, Abbas hinted at plans to dismantle the PA. Without follow-through.

Expect no substantive change ahead in Israeli/Palestinian relations. Nothing ending occupation harshness. Or continued settlement construction on stolen Palestinian land.

No human or civil rights observed. Nothing improving the lives of millions of Palestinians.

Nothing from the Hague helping them. Or from international leaders able to make a difference.

Palestinians remain largely isolated on their own. Just like they’ve been for decades.

With stooge governance under Abbas pretending to represent them. His various gambits up to now accomplished nothing positive.

Nor did his weak-kneed Security Council statehood resolution. An embarrassment and then some. Reports suggest he’ll introduce it a second time.

Petitioning the ICC at most will embarrass Israel. None of its officials will be held accountable. Business as usual won’t change.

US support remains firm. Militarized occupation continues. It’s just a matter of time before more Israeli aggression.

How much more mass murder and destruction is acceptable? How much more ruthless persecution? State terror writ large and then some.

How much longer will millions of Palestinians be denied fundamental rights everyone deserves?

How much longer will world leaders confine their support to rhetoric only? When will Palestinians finally be free?

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at His new book as editor and contributor is “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Visit his blog at . Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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