Last December ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement following her preliminary examination of the situation of Palestine: she requested the ICC judges to rule on the court’s jurisdiction over Palestine, to confirm her analysis. Bensouda said she had reviewed adequate evidence to suggest war crimes had been committed by Israel against Palestinians (and in Gaza by Hamas).
After reviewing submissions to the ICC for the judges to consider, she opined in a 60-page document: “The Prosecution has carefully considered the observations of the participants and remains of the view that the court has jurisdiction over the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Amongst those submissions were observations on behalf of Palestinian victims, the Jahalin Bedouin refugees of Al Khan al Ahmar.
Jahalin Solidarity, the non-profit which I co-direct, works to prevent forcible displacement of Bedouins. Such war crimes, including demolitions or denial of services that create a coercive environment, and the settler-colonial regime in Area C, are grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. We, therefore, mounted a social media campaign; our online petition calls on the ICC judges to rule swiftly in favor of international law, to uphold the court’s right to rule on issues of war crimes and thereby protect the Bedouin victims from forcible displacement, absent any alternative protection.
Our petition currently has 4300 signatories; it launches with a short filmlet, “A Girl’s Right,” directed by Emmy award-winner and Oscar nominee (for “Five Broken Cameras”) Guy Davidi. The soundtrack, “Thursday Afternoon,” was donated by Brian Eno – following a pattern for previous Jahalin Solidarity productions – “Nowhere Left to Go” having had Roger Waters’ permission to use his recording of “We Shall Overcome;” and “High Hopes” receiving permission from Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and his wife Polly Samson to use “High Hopes.”
Petition signatories include long-term activists such as Luisa Morgantini (former VP of the European Parliament), Simone Susskind, Prof. Avi Shlaim, journalist John Pilger, actors Noah Lepawsky and Miriam Margolyes, Israeli peace activist Dr. Udi Adiv, musicians Leon Rosselson and Dror Feiler, designer Bella Freud, artists Jane Frere and Sarah Beddington, filmmaker Lia Tarachansky and law professors Iain Scobbie and Frank Romano. Partners (listed at the petition site) include Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-UK (ICAHD-UK), BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine) and other European civil society solidarity groups.
As talk of annexation seems of its nature to be pushing that envelope into what many of us Israelis consider a suicidal lemming leap over the cliff, even an expression of a panicky Samson Syndrome being acted out by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pull down the Third Temple that is Israel on all our heads, as his corruption trial commences, it seems that only the ICC can save Palestine. And Israel. Because apartheid will then become official, and Israeli democracy (already questionable as it applies to minority citizens inside Israel such as the Bedouin) a discriminatory political system when serving citizens or those under its rule, such as the 300,000 Palestinians in Area C.
Friends of Palestine and of Israel are encouraged to support our initiative and sign the petition, so that civil society may also have its voice heard as to the ICC – and not just the voices of American and Israeli politicians who regularly attack, politicize or threaten that court, its integrity and its independence.