Israel and the ICC

21 January 2015

 

Netanyahu and Lieberman can’t really be worried about Israeli officials being prosecuted. If they are apprehensive, it’s because even the ICC’s preliminary examination may change the way the question of Palestine is perceived, framing it in terms of human rights, international law and war crimes, with the potential to produce a historical narrative very different from the hegemonic Zionist one.

Irrespective of whether the ICC’s examination leads to a full-blown investigation, it already raises some crucial questions. Who is the victim – a particularly charged category given the two peoples’ history – and who is the perpetrator? Can the displacement and ethnic cleansing of indigenous people be legal? Which kinds of violence can be considered legitimate and which illegitimate?

Simply asking these questions is perceived to endanger the dominant version of history, which is why the Israeli government and other Zionist organisations, such as NGO Monitor, have been so vitriolic in their responses to Bensouda. When Netanyahu says ‘no state, no standing, no case’, he is less worried about specific charges that could be brought against Israeli officials than about an examination and reinterpretation of Israel’s colonial practices in Palestine.

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