Palestine - Occupation and the International Criminal Court
- 70 Defa Okundu
As the legal deadline to initiate a judicial proceeding before the International Criminal Court approaches, talk about the annexation of Palestinian lands to the occupation state became the core matter, especially after the official Palestinian declaration of withdrawal from agreements signed with the occupation state.
The Pre-Trial Chamber, on May 26, requested Palestine additional information regarding the declaration by the Palestinian Authority that the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the state of Palestine are absolved of all the commitments and agreements with Israel and the United States. The Chamber also requested Palestine to provide additional information on this statement, including the question whether it pertains to any of the Oslo agreements between Palestine and Israel, by no later than 10 June 2020, In addition, the chamber invited Israel to respond to any additional information submitted by Palestine by no later than 24 June 2020, and indeed Palestine submitted its comments on June 5.
Palestine indicated that the statement was not made as part of the proceedings and was not in any way purport to, nor does it, legally affect the question presently before the Chamber. As a State party, and as a party to these proceedings; Palestine assiduously avoided advancing any political argument or claims in order to preserve and protect the judicial character of these proceedings. Based on these considerations, concluded that "the Court, in all its political aspects, cannot refuse to admit the legal character of a question which invites it to discharge an essential judicial task, namely, an assessment of the legality of the possible conduct of States with regard to the obligations imposed upon them by international law."
The Authority pointed out that the implementation of Israel’s planned annexation would violate the UN Charter and peremptory norms of international law.
"As the legal dead lıne to initiate judical proceedıng before the International Criminal Court approches, talk about the annexation of Palestinian lands to the occupation state became the core matter, especially after the official Palestinian declaration of withdrawal from agreements signed with th occupation state"
The illegal nature of Israeli attempts to annex Palestinian territories has prompted the Security Council, in many resolutions on the question of Palestine, to emphasize the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and to condemn all measures taken by Israel aimed at changing the demographic, personal character and status of the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. The gravity of the annexation is reflected in a normative manner in Article 8 of the Rome Statute dealing with the "most serious international crime" of aggression, which defines an act of aggression as "the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations". Such as the “invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State on the territory of another State, or any military occupation, however temporary, resulting from such an invasion or attack, or annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof”.
Annexation also inherently and unavoidably entails the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity falling within the competence of this Court, including but not limited to: extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly; unlawful deportation or transfer; the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory; persecution; and other inhumane acts.
Palestine clarified in its comments that the statement came in response to Israel's plan to annex the Palestinian territories under occupation, which is considered a material breach of the agreements between the two parties, which effectively cancels the remains of Oslo agreements and other concluded agreements.
While some fear the Court's sudden request, the Prosecutor responded positively by stating that she does not consider the statement to have an impact on the situation of Palestine as a party to the Rome Statute or on the exercise of the Court's jurisdiction over the situation in Palestine. The Prosecutor explained her understanding of and position on the Oslo Accords and that it did not prevent the exercise of the jurisdiction of the Court in Palestine. The Prosecutor expressed concern about Israel's intention to annex parts of the occupied Palestinian territories. She considered that "any unilateral occupation annexation of any Palestinian territories - totally or partially - is not legal.
At present, we are still waiting for the Israeli response to the court's request, before the countdown starts to officially initiate the litigation procedures, hoping to hold the occupying Power accountable and prosecute its war criminals leaders.
Abdullatif Khader | Lawyer specialized in occupation and wall of apartheid matter