Approximately one week ago, the Palestinian Authority put forward a request to the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes committed during last summer’s military operations against Hamas. Israel may not be perfect in its political, social, and military engagements (nor, for that matter is Canada or any other western country). However, without a doubt, the operation launched by the only liberal democracy in the Middle East against a brutal terrorist creed bent on launching thousands of rockets, kidnapping children, and blowing up cafes was as moral as any military campaign can be.
The question however is: why is Israel so concerned that the International Criminal Court may actually end up investigating it for war crimes? Do Israelis not see the opportunity this presents? If the ICC does indeed investigate Israel, it opens the door for Israel to launch a legal battle against the PA for previous heinous actions its members and affiliates have committed.
Indeed, not only is the PA composed of numerous members who were personally engaged in terrorism against Israel in times past, the PA has now also joined Hamas in a unity government. The PA, therefore, now shares responsibility for the actions of Hamas.
This opens the door for lawsuits against the PA for the more than 15,000 rocket attacks launched against Israel over the last ten years; the kidnapping and murder of countless innocent Israelis, such as the three yeshiva students murdered this past summer; the illegal funneling of international donor funds for terrorist means; and for numerous other violent and horrid attacks.
This would be a slam-dunk case for any average legal expert to win, all the more so for the countless brilliant lawyers and defenders of Israel operating in the US and around the world. (Somebody get me Professor Dershowitz on the phone.)
In short, the PA’s action vis-à-vis the ICC may be an attempt to pressure Israel, but it may have just the opposite effect. If the Israelis were to take legal action against the PA in the ICC, the PA would suffer a significant loss in international standing, stalling its unilateral campaign for statehood, and severely reducing its leverage against Israel.
It would also significantly hamper efforts by grassroots- and campus-based movements to gain support and vilify Israel.
We should not fear the PA’s move but rather welcome it. Welcome it for the fatal error that it is and seize the moment to put the brakes on the PA’s campaign. Ironically, it is on this path that we might just find ourselves one step closer to peace.