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Victory: ICC Rules that Palestine is Still Not a State

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In a massive defeat for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' campaign to delegitimize Israel, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled that Palestine is not a "state" and it therefore does not have jurisdiction to investigate alleged "war crimes" committed by Israel in the "territory of Palestine since 1 July 2002."

On January 22, 2009, the Palestinian Authority lodged a letter with the ICC, purporting to accept the ICC's jurisdiction in order to bring war crimes cases against Israeli officials at the ICC. The application was lodged in the wake of Israel's defensive Gaza War, aimed at ending years of rocket attacks from Gaza by Hamas.

In an official statement released today, the ICC said that under the Rome Statute (which governs the court's jurisdiction), only for the "relevant bodies at the United Nations or the Assembly of States Parties to make the legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a state for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute and thereby enabling the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court."

According to the statute only internationally recognized states can join the ICC. The ICC said that although the Palestinians claim to have been recognized as a state in bilateral relations by more than 130 governments and by certain international organisations, including United Nation bodies (such as UNESCO), the relevant decision for the purposes of its determination is the status which has been granted to it by the UN General Assembly.

At present, Palestine has only been granted "observer" status by the United Nations General Assembly and not full membership.

Under Article 4 of the UN Charter, states can only be admitted to membership in the United Nations by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the UN Security Council.

In addition, membership is only open to "peace-loving states" which accept the obligations contained in the Charter and, are able and willing to carry out these obligations. Given the PA's intentions to form a unity government with Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organisation, the latter is highly dubious to say the least.

On 23 September 2011, the Palestinian Authority submitted an application for admission to the UN. However, in an embarrassing diplomatic failure for Abbas, he was unable to secure the nine votes needed to pass a Security Council resolution to even determine whether to hold a vote. In any event, this was a moot point, as the United States declared it would veto such an application, saying it opposed any unilateral actions by the Palestinians to try establish a state "that can only be achieved by negotiations."

Abbas' application to the ICC has been part of an ongoing Palestinian lawfare campaign, aided and abetted by anti Israel non-governmental organisations, to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state by political exploitation of international law.

In fact, Abbas was very explicit as to his intentions, when he wrote in a May 16, 2011 op-ed in the New York Times:

"Palestine's admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice."

The Palestinians' defeat at the ICC is a clear victory for justice and commonsense. However, the vexatious brief should never have even got this far and ought to have been thrown out after the first glance.

Furthermore, the ICC's decision is also the umpteenth reminder to the Palestinians that only direct and bona fide negotiations with Israel, and not unilateral actions at the UN or international fora, will bring about statehood for them.