ICC membership may hurt Palestinians, Hamas more than Israel
Mahmoud Abbas’s successful bid to get Palestine non-member observer status at the United Nations takes Palestinians one step closer to becoming eligible to join the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which is empowered to investigate the worst international crimes. Although critics of Israel have long hoped to see Israeli leaders prosecuted by the Court, Israel has never ratified the ICC treaty, and the Palestinian territories, as a non-state, have thus far been unable to ratify, leaving their conflict off-limits.
The chance that Palestinians’ new UN recognition may change this has revived Israeli fears of one-sided prosecutions at the ICC. In light of those concerns, some western leaders have reportedly asked Palestinian officials to refrain from joining the court. In reality, however, ICC membership may prove more complicated for the Palestinians, forcing them, too, to take responsibility for their conduct. If anything, prosecutions of future Hamas crimes might proceed more easily than similar prosecutions of Israeli crimes.