No one is surprised by the UNSC decision, since the US UN delegation is firmly part of the congressional establishment, which will do anything stop Palestinian-promoted resolutions.
However, ِit is worth noting that Ali Abunima of the Electronic Intifada (open link: http://electronicintifada.net/) was actually glad that the resolution, written by the Palestinian Authority without any support from any other Palestinian factions, failed. In an attempt to avoid the American veto at the UNSC, the PA had watered down very fundamental Palestinian rights in the drafting of the document. For instance, it didn’t even call for settlements to be dismantled and withdrawn. That’s why this resolution should not have passed and didn’t.
So really it was good news that the UNSC resolution failed, which allowed Mahmoud Abbas to fulfill the Fatah promise made months ago to sign the Rome Treaty (open link: http://different-traditions.com/?s=Fatah+says+that+Abbas%2C+after+the+UN+speech%2C+is+on+his+way+to+sign+the+Rome+Treaty+regarding+the+ICC)
It’s now up to ICC. My position with respect to the ICC has been guarded throughout this process. We shall now be able to gauge the mettle of this organisation, as it begins to deal with big time war criminals – the Israeli leadership – for the first time.
On 17 July 1998, the Rome Statute of the ICC was adopted by a vote of 120 to 7, with 21 countries abstaining. The seven countries that voted against the treaty were China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, the US and Yemen. Following 60 ratifications, the Rome Statute entered into effect on 1 July 2002 and the International Criminal Court was formally established. Significantly however, among the non-members we have the US, China, Russia, Israel, India, Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
We have of course, as previously posted, the ambivalent position of the ICC and the unresolved matters as to how the Rome statute is supposed to function with the UNSC (United Nations Security Council), which means that it is politically weak and will never be able to act independently, except with regard to minor war crimes figures whose prosecution the US agrees with (open link: http://different-traditions.com/?s=Palestine+going+to+the+ICC). This is significant in highlighting the weakness of the ICC as an institution, given the enormous pressure that Israel and its Western allies will apply if the PA refers Israeli crimes to the ICC prosecutor. Since 2010, Israel’s Military Advocate General has warned that the Israeli government would view PA pursuit of Israel through the ICC “as war.”
However, the Palestinians do gain from joining the ICC. They will not gain from referring past Israeli war crimes to its prosecutor, because of difficulties with gaining access to Israeli personnel for questioning and subsequently prosecution. This will be complicated by matters to do with which time periods Palestine can effectively say are covered by their accession mandate to the ICC. They will gain, however, from referring each and every future infraction in the ongoing illegal settlement process. This is clearly a running war crime being perpetrated by an occupying force, and one which the Palestinians are fully justified in addressing through the ICC. Furthermore, in the context of massive declines in Israeli legitimacy in the court of international public opinion, and the dislike of these illegal settlements amongst European governments especially, but also the US government, complaints through the ICC will add a level of diplomatic complication to the process for Israel, one which they should be careful to be guarded about.
Like the actions of the EU over the recognition of Palestine and the legitimation of Hamas, the non-Congressional establishment may be so minded as to let the ICC go its own way on complaints against illegal settlements, irrespective of its posturing elsewhere. We saw how the “white tribe” countries – the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK- reacted negatively to the 900-acre land grab in East Jerusalem over last Christmas, regarding it as outright theft, which cannot in any way be defended from the aspect of enhancing Israel’s security.