Podcast Ep 54: Palestine is the litmus test for international law

On episode 54, we are joined by representatives of major Palestinian civil society organizations Sahar Francis and Ahmed Abofoul to talk about current progress in bringing an investigation into Israel’s crimes to the International Criminal Court, even as Israel – and the US and Canada – have tried to stifle progress.

Francis is the director of Addameer, the Prisoner’s support and Human Rights Association, and Abofoul is a legal researcher and advocacy officer at Al-Haq, a group that documents Israel’s human rights violations.

Addameer and Al-Haq are among six Palestinian civil society groups that Israel’s defense minister Benny Gantz designated last fall as “terrorist” organizations – an attempt to disrupt and destroy the work of these groups and especially their gathering of evidence for the ICC investigation.

Despite Gantz’s designations, these Palestinian civil society organizations have not stopped providing evidence of Israel’s war crimes to the International Criminal Court, Abofoul explains.

“As a matter of fact, Palestinian organizations are in a way the only access the court has to do the requisite documentation of the human rights violations and the alleged crimes committed in Palestine, since Israel does not allow any investigative body to access the occupied territory – not only the ICC, [but] even the special rapporteurs of the UN and the commissions of inquiry,” Abofoul says.

Last year, Al-Haq and Addameer and other human rights organizations helped move the United Nations to establish a commission of inquiry in order to look at the root causes of Israel’s systematic discrimination on both sides of the 1967 boundary.

Francis says that she hopes this commission’s investigations will find that the situation for Palestinians is “beyond occupation.”

“For us, it’s not about the specific cases of the prisoners and the detainees. It’s about the phenomena of inventing a military control system, designed with the military orders and the military courts in order to obtain the control and persecution and oppression over the whole Palestinian community all these decades,” she says.

What are the responsibilities of third countries and how are we “going to force Israel to end the whole system of control and not just occupation?” she asks.

Al-Haq and Addameer have also recently issued a joint submission to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council during Israel’s fifth review of compliance with its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Palestinian groups stated that Israel’s apartheid system is in direct violation of the ICCPR, and that “the indisputable reality on the ground is that Israel has been imposing a regime of racial discrimination against the Palestinians, who are rendered fragmented, vulnerable and unable to effectively challenge this regime.”

We also play clips from a February panel, organized by the Carter Center, called “Palestinian Civil Society Under Threat.” The event featured Francis and Al-Haq’s director Shawan Jabarin.

Articles we discussed

Video production by Tamara Nassar

Theme music by Sharif Zakout

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Full transcript

Lightly edited for clarity.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: And welcome back to The Electronic Intifada Podcast. I’m Nora Barrows-Friedman, Asa Winstanley is off this week. We’re delighted today to be joined by Sahar Francis, director of Addameer, the prisoners support and human rights association. And Ahmed Abofoul, legal researcher and advocacy officer at Al-Haq.

Both Sahar and Ahmed’s organizations are two of the six Palestinian civil society groups that Israel’s defense minister Benny Gantz designated last fall as “terrorist” organizations, a clear attempt to disrupt and destroy the work of these groups, and especially their ongoing gathering of evidence to take Israel to the International Court, to the International Criminal Court for its violations of Palestinian human rights. In one moment, we’ll go to our guests and talk about updates in the ICC investigations. But first, here are some excerpts of a February panel organized by the Carter Center, called Palestinian civil society under threat, featuring Sahar Francis and Shawan Jabarin of Al-Haq, along with many other representatives of Palestinian organizations, let’s go to that.

Sahar Francis: We were facing attacks much, much before this designation. And there’s other forms of harassment and intimidation and tools that they were trying to use in order to silence us like several colleagues were arrested, whether under administrative detention or a charged and convicted and raiding the office of Addameer several times in 2002, in 2012, in 2019, stealing computers, cameras, and missing the files and stealing material from the offices and putting restrictions of movement against the the staff members, board members and general assembly members. And all these smear campaigns that were led by NGO Monitor and other Israeli right-wing organizations over the last couple of years, and trying really to distribute false information against us in order to affect mainly our donors and our supporters on the international level. So we were kind of aware how much our work is bothering them, that they are worried and they know that we are succeeding at some point in the legal work and accountability in the international level, especially with the UN and the ICC. And we are expecting that we will pay a price for such work that we are doing.

Shawan Jabarin: They want to close the door before the peaceful and legal way to defend rights. Which way they want to leave for people to defend their rights, this is an issue. Another thing is is this an action of a democratic society or a democratic government or a democratic action? This is also another one. The third one is we are speaking about the most incredible organizations. Also, these organizations received awards for their work, one of their awards is the Carter Award for Al-Haq, for instance, in ‘89. This is an issue. Another thing is, even just a few weeks ago, two weeks ago, organizations were nominated for the Nobel Prize for their work. And I think this is an issue and this is the reason. If you want to uproot and to close the door before this kind of work, which work you want to stay to fight against oppression, to fight against injustice, to fight against apartheid regime, to fight against all of these horrible crimes taking place on a daily basis in Palestine? That’s the big thing. Another thing is also, what about, you know, just secret files, and there is no evidence. And you can ask the American officials, do they have evidence that they received really credible evidence from the Israeli side? If they want something they can send also a mission from Congress, for instance, to Palestine to investigate the situation here. And we accept that. Please do.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Sahar Francis and Ahmed Abofoul, thank you so much for being with us today on The Electronic Intifada Podcast.

Sahar Francis: Thank you.

Ahmed Abofoul: Thank you for having us.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Of course. Ahmed, let’s start with you. Can you talk about any updates in the process of bringing an investigation into Israel’s crimes to the ICC – even as Israel and of course the US and Canada have tried to stifle any progress? Are you still compiling evidence for investigators?

Ahmed Abofoul: Yes, sure. Well, maybe the short answer would be that to indicate that on the 3rd of March 2021, the ICC former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda officially announced the initiation of its investigation into the situation in Palestine. The investigation currently focused on possible war crimes related to three areas. First is related to the 2014 military offensive on Gaza, second, to the 2018-2019 Gaza protests known as the Great March of Return, and third, on the Israeli illegal settlements in the West Bank. Now, supposedly the next step, the next step should be moving from a situation stage to a case-building stage. So in other words, building specific cases identifying perpetrators and subsequently requesting summons to appear or arrest warrants. This is in short where we’re at right now but perhaps it’s useful to give a brief procedure history of how we got here.

As a matter of fact, Palestine’s journey into pursuing justice at the ICC started long before that date, before last year, 2021. Perhaps to start with the situation of Palestine was initially brought, initially brought to the ICC in 2009, after the offensive on Gaza when Palestine lodged a declaration under Article 12 paragraph three, recognizing the court jurisdiction, which is on a voluntary basis, a state that is not a party to the court can accept the court jurisdiction, and then in 2012, the event prosecutor concluded that the status of Palestine at the UN as an observer entity was determinative, since the accession to the Rome Statute usually takes place by launching the accession to the UN Secretary General as the acting depository, and therefore Palestine could not – this was the conclusion of the persecutor – could not accede to the Rome Statute and could not lodge the declaration in accordance with Article 12 paragraph three.

After that, in November 2012 Palestine’s status at the UN was elevated to a non-member observer status and therefore, subsequently in January 2015, Palestine could accede to the Rome Statute. Two weeks later, the officer persecutor started permitting an examination in the case. Notably here, since you asked me about states that tried to obstruct the investigation, Canada was the only state party, the only ICC state party at that time to lodge an objection to the UN’s secretary general claiming that Palestine does not meet the criteria of a state under international law, and that Palestine is not recognized by Canada as a state, and therefore, it’s not able to accede the Rome Statute. And, of course, this did not have an effect, although, arguably, if this would have the effect – It could only be on the treaty relations between the two states not on Palestine’s ability to join the Rome Statute.

In May 2018, apparently, because the preliminary examination was taking very long, Palestine submitted to the persecutor a referral, pursuant to Article 13, paragraph A and article 14, which is known as a self-refer, in this case when a state party refers the situation in his territory to the court, and this was a novel situation to the ICC. As a matter of fact, that was the first reference in a sense of complaint, since it was against nationals to a third state – in this case of an occupying power. In December 2019, the prosecutor announced that the preliminary examination was completed and that all the statutory criteria for opening an investigation have been met. On the same day the prosecutor requested from the pre-Trial Chamber jurisdictional ruling on the scope of its territory jurisdiction. And some have argued that this was not necessary. Indeed, it was not necessary, the prosecutor did not need an authorization from the court.

But at that time, the prosecutor deemed that this was important for her to proceed in the investigation. In its request, the – Fatou Bensouda, the then-prosecutor noted that there is reasonably – this is important to note, since 2019, before even starting an investigation, she noted that there was reasonable basis to believe that war crimes have been or are being committed in the occupied Palestiniasn territory, and therefore, it has already identified potential cases. And I’m quoting what she said – identified potential cases arising from the situation which would be admissible. So due to, it’s clear that the then-prosecutor had already identified cases and could start with building the case and identifying perpetrators now, and in January 2020 the ICC started the procedure and invited experts known as amicus curiae briefs, friends of the courts, to submit their opinion on the case. And it’s granted 34 amicus curiae requests to submit observations to the court and nine requests from international organizations and states. The League of Arab States and their Organization of Islamic Cooperations were the two organizations in favor of the court’s jurisdiction over the occupied Palestinian territory, and seven states submitted against the the ICC jurisdiction and these were the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Australia, Brazil and Uganda.

And as you can see, many of them now are very enthusiastic about the investigation in Ukraine. On the fifth of February 2021, the pre-Trial Chamber issued this decision that the ICC territorial jurisdiction extends to the Palestinian to the occupied Palestinian territory in its entirety – in other words, the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and in March 2021, the prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the former prosecutor, announced that she initiated her investigation on the situation in Palestine. That’s that’s where we’re at right now as to, to providing evidence to the court, Palestinian organizations have not stopped providing evidence to the court and continue to do so as a matter of fact, Palestinian organizations are in a way the only access the court has to do the requisite documentation of the human rights violations and the alleged crimes committed in Palestine since Israel does not allow any investigative body to access the occupied territory, not only the ICC, even the special rapporteurs of the UN and the Commission of Inquiries.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: So where does that leave the investigation now? Like what is the – you’re still compiling evidence, but where is it going? And what is the next step, especially as there’s a new director of the ICC, lead investigator, I mean.

Ahmed Abofoul: As I mentioned now, this situation should move from a situation under investigation to the stage of building cases, identifying specific cases and identifying perpetrators and therefore after that, we hope to see requests for arrest warrants and summons that appear, but this has not yet happened. So we’re at that stage.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Thanks, Ahmed. Sahar and Ahmed, can you talk about the double standard – you alluded to it a little bit, Ahmed, being applied to Russia at the moment when Western countries, many of those who have, you know, stood in the way of the ICC launching these investigations into Israeli war crimes, saying that they – you know, it was fast-tracked. The US was saying that they had, you know, started a process to push the ICC to investigate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, while at the same time these countries are as you, as you mentioned, trying to shield Israel from accountability. Sahar, what are your thoughts on how you see these, you know, Western countries rushing to the ICC right now, while you know, trying to – trying to discredit Palestine’s investigations.

Sahar Francis: Honestly, I wasn’t surprised by this double-standard, hypocritical position because we are so familiar with this double standard behavior, especially from the United States, Canada, European countries, that they are, for decades now, putting all their efforts in order to ban us from reaching accountability via other platforms, whether internally in the UN Human Rights mechanisms by objecting and putting obstacles and abstaining from the Chapter Seven discussion in item seven – sorry, discussion in the Human Rights Council session or blocking any efforts in local domestic justice systems in Europe and in other places.

So actually, it was expected that in the ICC level, they would put all the efforts they have in order to block the Palestinians from reaching this opportunity, and especially now with the position of the United States that they were punishing the ICC, and the office, the prosecutor’s office over the decision on the Palestinian case, now that they are supporting that the same body will investigate Russia on the Ukraine war. This just discloses how serious the politicization for the international human rights standards and the international law. And I think all human rights defenders and human rights organizations have responsibilities to be much vocal over this hypocritical behavior and political interference in the work of the ICC and such double standards should end – because with such behavior, there is no justice going to come for any victim, or no real accountability for any perpetrator in our world.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Ahmed, did you want to add to that?

Ahmed Abofoul: Yes, I think one needs to differentiate. Like if we’re talking about double standards of states, it’s not really surprising, because this has always been the case when it comes to Israel, there’s always this special treatment, it’s not being held to the same standards of any other states. But when it comes to the court, professionally and personally speaking, I would be reluctant to say that there’s double standards. I think, so far the prosecutor is navigating his way through a very, in my view, very difficult dynamic. And it could be that he’s using the opportunity, for example, we heard the prosecutor announcing a request for voluntary contribution.

The ICC has had this financial budgetary problem for years. And you can see the difference between what the prosecutor is asking for and what the states are responding to. So for example, he says, voluntary contribution for the support of his office across situations, meaning that no state can actually contribute financially for a specific investigation. That’s not how international justice works, while at the same time the way states are responding – they’re declaring that they’re contributing to the system that supports the investigation in Ukraine. Sometimes they don’t even say but the whole statement is crafted to say this, and in some cases, I will even name one: the French ambassador to the Hague retweeted something and then the persecutor retweeted it and reaffirmed across situations but states don’t apparently understand that. So I think – I understand that the prosecutor has to find innovative ways to get support for the court, but it’s also also a sensitive area – one has to be careful of how international justice works. I would be very reluctant to say so far that there are any double standards from the court.

But to be honest, I can conveniently claim that there are double standards if, for example, we would say, we would see a case being presented in the situation in Ukraine before the situation in Palestine, simply because the timeline of both situations is almost similar. Of course, I’m not comparing two situations, one cannot compare two situations before the International Criminal Court, every situation has its own considerations. But it would be very strange if we see, at least in my view, if we see a case being presented to the court on the situation in Ukraine, before a case presented on the situation in Palestine, especially as we just mentioned that, since the former prosecutor submitted her request to the pre-Trial Chamber, it declared that it had already identified cases, and they should be presented soon.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Thanks for that. Let’s talk about the kind of work that both of your organizations are involved in, including the establishment last year of an ongoing Commission of Inquiry to look at the root causes of Israel’s systematic discrimination on both sides of the Green Line. Sahar, can you take us through what this Commission of Inquiry is, and how Addameer fits into that?

Sahar Francis: Yes, actually, this is the first time that the UN is appointing such an investigative group to dig into the root causes and not to investigate in a specific action of war crimes, or crimes against humanity, like, for example, the Goldstone investigating committee after the war on Gaza, and other investigating inquiries, or, let’s say the kind of work that special rapporteurs are able to do. So this is very important and a very powerful body that we, as Palestinians, for the first time, would be able to discuss, really the root causes of the Palestinian situation going even before 1948 when the Zionist movement started their ideology and project planned for Palestine, and colonization over Palestine for decades.

So for example, in our work as Addameer, how it’s connected as an organization that’s specified on the work with Palestinian prisoners, in front of the Israeli occupation, whether military courts or civil courts, and so on. So for us, it’s not about the specific cases of the prisoners and the detainees. It’s about the phenomena of inventing a military control system, designed with the military orders and the military courts in order to obtain the control and persecution and oppression over the whole Palestinian community all these decades.

So it’s very important that in our meeting with the committee a couple of days ago, we highlighted highlighted the practices and the policies of torture of arbitrary detention over decades in a widespread manner, and how actually the low was manipulated in the military courts and the legal procedures, criminal procedures, pretend to present the system as an objective system that offers fair trial standards while in the reality. It’s designed in a way that no matter how much you put efforts, legal efforts, you cannot succeed, you cannot reach any success in this system, because it’s designed in order to maintain the control over the Palestinian society. So I hope that this committee would conclude that it’s beyond occupation. It’s not just occupation, it’s illegal occupation, it’s a colonial settler regime that cannot – And the response, the most important thing here is, what would be the responsibilities of the third-state parties and the international society, not just the responsibility of the state of Israel, but how we are going to force Israel to end the whole system of control and not just occupation?

Nora Barrows-Friedman: What can you say about the work that Al-Haq is doing with this inquiry?

Ahmed Abofoul: First, like about the Commission of Inquiry itself, it’s unique in every sense of the word and very important for us. This is the first commission of inquiry that does not have a limited timeframe or scope. It’s an ongoing commission of inquiry. And it’s mandated to investigate the root causes of the conflict or of the human rights violations that take place in – against Palestinian people. And most importantly, it has the features of an investigative body. So in addition to underlying the root causes of the conflict, it has the mandate to collect, consolidate and analyze evidence of such relations.

So in that sense, I think it’s a very important commission of inquiry. And this is the first time that perhaps an official body would look at the situation as a whole on both sides of the Green Line. And lately, we see, for example, the fragmentation of the past and people is not only geographically it’s even in the way this question is being perceived. So for example, we have special rapporteurs on the situation in the occupied Palestine territory, who a few days ago concluded that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid, but because of his mandate, that is only limited to the occupied Palestinian territory, he cannot address apartheid laws, practices and policies that take place inside the Green Line, he cannot address the denial of the right of return to Palestinian refugees outside the territory. So in that sense, I think it has a very important role, and addressing the root causes, as Sahar mentioned, would necessitate that this commission of inquiry touch upon the settler colonial nature of this occupation.

Israel does not have an ordinary occupation, there is no occupation in modern history that lasted for 55 years. This is not a temporary occupation. And this is an intent to maintain this regime. As a matter of fact, in my personal view, I think Israel needed this occupation. It’s not like a situation that Israel had to deal with and working to end the occupation, but it needed the occupation to prolong or to even establish an apartheid regime that can last forever. It has instrumentalized the international humanitarian law and the law, the laws of armed conflict framework to pursue its colonial objectives. And this is clear from Israel’s settlement policy. We have a state that claims to want peace, but at the same time, keeps stealing basically, stealing land and the settler colonial objective of having acquiring more land by force with less Palestinian people, I think is clear.

As for Al-Haq’s work, our mandate is very clear. We document human rights violations that take place in the occupied Palestinian territory and against the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people, regardless of the perpetrator, so we document everything. So whatever the Commission of Inquiry asks for we provide. And I have to say, perhaps, this is one of the reasons that our organization as Al-Haq and Addameer and others have been designated as terrorist organizations it’s because our work hurts – our work basically exposes this apartheid regime that attempts to portray itself to the world as the only democracy in the Middle East, which in my view, this is the only regime in the world that is self-proclaimed and West-promoted as only democracy while in fact, it’s an apartheid racist regime. So I think in short, I cannot give details, but in short, I can assure you that in accordance with our mandate, we do everything in our power to provide the commission of inquiry or any investigative body that is seeking to investigate international crimes or human rights violations, and will be useful in providing justice for the victims affected by those violations. We will provide them with anything they need, we’ll do everything in our power.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: You mentioned the mounting declarations by UN envoys, by human rights organizations, you know, in addition to the decades of analysis by Palestinian organizations that Israel is practicing apartheid. What do you think about whether the ICC, bringing it back to the to the international court for a minute, whether the ICC could investigate Israel’s apartheid system as a whole, even though its territorial jurisdiction is limited to the West Bank and Gaza, just as you pointed out, but the UN rapporteurs jurisdiction? Could the Commission of Inquiry tapped by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate Israel’s system of oppression as a whole contribute to that? I mean, is there, is there a chance that this jurisdiction can be applied to the entire, you know, breadth of Historic Palestine geographically?

Ahmed Abofoul: As for the ICC, I think the jurisdictional limitations are clear. That’s the occupied Palestinian territory, namely, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Now the Commission of Inquiry can address the situation as a whole on both sides and the green line, the ICC cannot, but the Commission of Inquiry can actually provide its conclusions. The evidence is collected or consolidated, the reports that it has conducted or investigations that it has conducted, it can transmit this to the office of prosecutor, there’s an open, I would assume, normally speaking, there is an open channel of communication.

But this information can – for the ICC – can only be used when it comes to the occupied Palestinian territory and when it comes to the crimes against humanity of apartheid, in my view, when it comes to the ICC, it doesn’t really make a difference whether the ICC addresses the situation as a whole or in the past century contributes to crimes against humanity of apartheid is a crime that requires high level individuals to be taking this decision of institutionalizing this regime of racial discrimination with the intent to maintain this regime. So either way, it could, the ICC could identify the same perpetrators for the scope of the occupied Palestinian territory, but the actions will have been committed for against the Palestinian people as a whole. So for the considerations of international justice, the ICC doesn’t actually need to address those situations when it comes to the crime of apartheid, it can only look at the occupied Palestinian territory and persecute individual perpetrators.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Sahar, if you could touch upon Palestine being a litmus test of the legitimacy of the ICC and why it has global implications for the international legal system and human rights framework. What is the significance of Palestine at the ICC?

Sahar Francis: I think it’s a very important case, because we are the only state under occupation if you want, lasting, as Ahmed said, for decades, this is a unique occupation case. And this is why we claim it’s beyond occupation. It’s more than the occupation, according to the international humanitarian law standards. But I also wanted to highlight that I think this commission of inquiry that was founded last year, for me personally, as a lawyer working in the field for the last 25 years, with all the efforts to reach accountability via the UN mechanisms is much more important than the ICC, because I think there is a potential in this committee because as Ahmed described, it’s not limited on the timeframe and its scope is to go and investigate for the root causes. It’s very important that they can include in their recommendations and conclusions specific actions, that it’s the responsibility of the General Assembly and state parties, which means they should ask for sanctions on Israel, in order to dismantle this colonial regime.

Whereas in the ICC, the maximum that we can seek is individual criminalization, and accountability for individual Israeli perpetrators, and not for the state and the whole system. The ICC is not going to prosecute Israel as a state and the system of this state. So this is a very important difference. And this is, it’s not contradicting, it’s not undermining each other’s work. It’s complimentary, as Ahmed said, the report of this commission could be used by the ICC. And this is why – This is also why the Palestinian case is very unique and very important, because I don’t think we can ignore these long decades of violating, systematic violation for every almost every aspect of the international humanitarian law. And all the way trying to avoid accountability.

Israel was the only state almost in the UN that kept violating systematically and committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, all these more than [seven] decades, without at least once being accountable for what they are doing. And added on top, they are always trying to undermine the international humanitarian standards bar, switching the definitions or the explanation or what it means to implement and unfortunately, were totally supported by politically-motivated decision makers from the different countries, especially the European countries and the United States.

At the end of the day, it totally affected the international system, I mean, on the legal level, and the criminal, the international criminal system and what it means if we developed all these concepts of universal jurisdiction procedures, in order to enable states to prosecute perpetrators on very serious crimes that affect the whole humanity like torture. How come you – when it comes to an Israeli perpetrator of a crime of torture, you block your internal system in front of the Palestinians in order to protect the Israelis? So I think this should end and international humanitarian law and international human rights law should be really implemented equally. And in the same way, all over in any conflict, in any war, in any for the protection of any victim in the world. This is why the Palestinian case actually is the test case for this system. If it could be really a just system and a system that respects all victims no matter what, what’s their ethnicity, or color or belonging or whatever or not. Or it would be always bound by the political interests of this state or that state.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Absolutely. Ahmed, did you want to add anything?

Ahmed Abofoul: Well, yeah, I just I would echo what Sahar said, Palestine is indeed a test for the whole world order, the whole post-Second World War order, the world has, has now a world order that established on or based on international law, and you have this country, Israel, that is, in fact altering and jeopardizing this whole system by violating international law and refusing to abide by its rules. Israel is the only country in the world that is still committing colonization and apartheid at the same time, as well. Like there’s only almost no violation that Israel has not committed – the situation in Palestine is one of the most documented situations in the whole world, one of the most protracted situations in the whole world and yet, a climate of impunity prevails, no justice is being provided.

So I think this is just to the whole world order, the whole international law system and to the ICC itself, the ICC has been criticized for a very long time that it only targets African states, criticism, that person I do not agree, because similarly, these states, actually they asked the court to intervene. But in other situations where we have Palestine, a state party, made their referral, this is supposed to be stronger than any case because you have a state party that is meeting its financial contribution, meeting all of its obligations by the statute, but then the situation is not being prosecuted. Now, it’s over 13 years, and no justice is being served. So I think this is a test for the ICC itself, and I think it would be a determinative factor for its future as an institution. Maybe I would like to also add something.

When we talk about the situation in Palestine and occupied Palestine territory, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, this is only 22 percent of historic Palestine. But the – this is the historic compromise that the Palestinians have made for peace. And yet, Israel finds it 22 percent – very much so it wants to colonize and build settlements and acquire territory by force from those 22 percent. From my very little experience in this field and interacting with Palestinians, I think that Palestinians are only asking for their rights, nothing more. And I can assure you that they would never settle for nothing less, and they should not be asked to compromise their human rights. And I think, again, Palestinians are not asking for more than human rights. As a matter of fact, they’re not even asking – I think the word misunderstood, the Palestinians – they’re demanding their human rights, they’re entitled to those rights, no one would be doing them a favor when they achieve their collective and individual rights.

And I think one way or another, this will be inevitable as any case of colonization has ended. Colonization, apartheid should not have a place in this world, whether committed by a European country, or African country or wherever in the world, even if committed by Israel, which always has special treatment in the West.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Thank you so much, Ahmed Abofoul, legal researcher and advocacy officer at Al-Haq, and Sahar Francis, Director of Addameer. We will have links to both of your organizations and some of the recent investigations that you’re involved in and the Commission of course, up on The Electronic Intifada Podcast posts that accompanies this episode. Sahar and Ahmed, thank you so much for all that you do, all of your work. And thanks for coming on with us at The Electronic Intifada Podcast.

Ahmed Abofoul: Thank you for having us.

Sahar Francis: Thank you.

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