By Amitabh Pal on February 07, 2013

Israel continues to lose legitimacy because of its policies toward the Palestinians.

A three-member panel set up by the U.N. Human Rights Council recently concluded that Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestine violated the Geneva Conventions and could be liable to prosecution in an international judicial forum.

"These actions fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, the panel said, and if a future Palestinian state ratified the Rome Statute, which created the court, Israel could be called to account for gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law,'" the New York Times reports.

Israel and the United States knew this might be coming. That's why they they worked frantically (and unsuccessfully) last year to thwart an upgrade of the Palestinian status at the United Nations. They were so worried that they tried to have Palestine pledge not to join the court as a precondition to removing their objections.

"A major concern for the Americans is that the Palestinians might use their new status to try to join the International Criminal Court," the New York Times reported then. "That prospect particularly worries the Israelis, who fear that the Palestinians might press for an investigation of their practices in the Occupied Territories."

Thankfully, Palestine did not cave in, and now the opportunity for it to take Israel to court has presented itself sooner than perhaps anyone expected. The human rights panel has provided a roadmap.

"At a news conference, [panel head Christine] Chanet called the report a kind of weapon for the Palestinians if they want to take their grievances before the Hague-based International Criminal Court," the Huffington Post reports.

And the Palestinians may take up the offer.

"All the Israeli settlement activities are illegal and considered to be war crimes according to the International Criminal Court's Rome Statute as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention," said PLO executive committee member and renowned activist Hanan Ashrawi. "This means that Israel is liable to prosecution."

Of course, Israel is furious at the findings, and boycotted the panel's proceedings right from the start. The Obama Administration also chimed in with its disapproval, stating that the panel would not "advance the cause of peace" and that it would "distract the parties from efforts to resolve the issues that divide them." (In reality, the peace process has come to a dead end.)

The panel's recommendations are welcome to anyone wanting to see justice served on the Palestinian issue. The International Criminal Court has been a bit of a disappointment, and here's an opportunity for it to redeem itself. All the previous targets of its investigations have been African countries with little or no muscle. Last April, it refused to pursue a case against Israel on the ground that Palestine was not a full U.N. member. Palestine's recent upgrade from an "entity' to a "non-member state" may already be beginning to change things, although it doesn't completely clear up the legal muddle.

And even if Palestine is able to join the International Criminal Court, the United States in the U.N. Security Council could block any Palestinian move to charge Israel. It should resist the temptation to do that.

It is long past time for Israel to be held legally accountable for its actions in the Occupied Territories.

If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "John Kerry's Conventional Mindset."

Follow Amitabh Pal @amitpal on Twitter.

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A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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