On April 1, 2015, the non-state of ‘Palestine’ officially joined the International Criminal Court (ICC). This means that the Palestinian Authority (PA) can now attempt to sue leaders of Israel for war crimes Israel has allegedly committed against ‘Palestine’. Abbas has been pursuing this membership as an integral part of his bid for statehood for ‘Palestine’. He hasn’t as yet achieved his first goal, UN recognition as a state. But he has achieved his second goal, enrolment in the ICC.
Abbas’ goal for statehood hasn’t been to create a functioning, viable state. We know that’s the case because he hasn’t been working to create a viable state since his original 2011 bid for statehood at the UN. Instead, virtually everything he does focuses on one goal: to expand his war against Israel so that, step by step, he strangles Israel.
One important step is ‘lawfare’—the use of the law to wage war against an enemy. Now that he’s a ‘member of the club’, Abbas can use the international stage to do more than simply condemn Israel. He can criminalize Israel in a Court of law. In theory at least, he could seek to get Israel ‘convicted’ in Court.
Could that hurt Israel? No one knows. But Abbas is an optimist. He knows that the more hits Israel takes, the greater will be the chance that one of those hits will kill.
For Abbas, killing Israel won’t be done through a frontal assault. It’ll be accomplished step-by-step. Lawfare is a one of those steps.
Fortunately for Israel, it’s not a member of the ICC. It never joined. Because of its non-member status, it isn’t obligated (in theory) to cooperate with the Court if it’s sued.
Abbas doesn’t care. As a non-state, the PA wasn’t eligible to join the ICC in the first place—but the ICC made an exception for it.
Exceptions have been a way of life for Abbas. The International community has treated ‘Palestinians’ with exceptional favouritism. He understands ‘exceptions’. Getting them is his speciality.
That’s why he’s confident. Based on experience, he should expect a favourable reception at the ICC. So far, he has.
He’s the world’s beloved. He can do as he pleases—especially if it involves attacking Israel.
He can do that because Israel isn’t beloved. It’s vilified.
Abbas has seen how the EU and the UN demonize and condemn Israel. For example, he knows that the United Nations Human Rights Council has condemned Israel almost more times that all other nations combined (“Why are the UN and the West so obsessed with condemning Israel when real genocides are happening in many countries?”, Quora, January 21, 2015).
Abbas-the-world’s-beloved wants to attack Israel-the-world’s-brute. If that’s his goal, his ICC membership appears to make sense. That membership is pregnant with possibility for him. It’s like getting a soccer-game free kick: no one opposes him.
Through the ICC, his chances to unmake Israel improve. Now, through the law, he can think seriously about isolating Israel. He knows that the world grows increasing ready to reject Israel outright.
The odds favour him. Each year, he has moved closer to getting Israel excommunicated from the family of nations. ICC action could be the key to Israel’s end just as UN action once ended South Africa’s white-only rule.
But then, we remember that today is April Fool’s Day. Is it coincidence that Abbas’ ICC membership occurs on this day of silliness?
The two events might be connected. It’s possible that the PA’s acceptance into the ICC will prove to be nothing more than a cruel joke that will hurt—not help—the ‘Palestinian cause’.