The Palestinian Authority (PA) signed the Rome Statue on Wednesday advancing a push to sue Israel for "war crimes" at the International Criminal Court (ICC), but the path for such a move has been paved by intense "lawfare" and propaganda against Israel for decades by NGOs, according to NGO Monitor.
The Jerusalem-based research center detailed how major NGOs including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and European-funded NGOs Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Al Haq, Diakonia and FIDH, brought about the ICC move through years of lobbying.
"Attempting to litigate the highly charged Arab-Israeli conflict in the ICC could spell the end of the court, and the NGOs and their European funders will be responsible," said Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor Legal Advisor. "While the Palestinian leadership and the NGOs may get some short-lived propaganda victories in their political war, they may soon find they got more than they bargained for."
The reason for that is that legal experts - including the PA's own UN human rights envoy and a former ICC chief prosecutor - have assessed the move can lead to counter-prosecutions of officials from all the Palestinian Arab factions over war crimes committed against Israelis.
European governments are a key backer in providing funds for the NGOs that have campaigned for years to allow this move, and often that funding occurs via "secretive and irresponsible processes that lack transparency and accountability," reports NGO Monitor.
Palestinian Center for Human Rights gets funds from the European Union (EU), Norway and Ireland; Al Haq receives from Ireland, Belgium, Spain and Norway; FIDH is funded by France, EU, Sweden, Norway and Ireland; and Diakonia, a Swedish church-based NGO, gets most of its funding from the Swedish government.
So how do these European-backed NGOs wage their "lawfare" against the Jewish state?
One of their prime mechanisms if the Secretariat, a joint framework of funding by Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland which is managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University. The funding mechanism has long given the financial support needed for NGOs to wage legal campaigns delegitimizing Israel and advancing Palestinian Arab narratives and goals.
"Ironically, in order to convince governments to support the ICC, Human Rights Watch has argued for years that the court would never be exploited for political maneuvers by the Palestinians," said Herzberg. "Once again, Human Rights Watch has been proven wrong."
There are also NGOs functioning within Israel, including Adalah and Yesh Din, which advance the false accusation of a lack of due process in Israel's justice system to push for international "war crimes" cases. Both NGOs are funded by European governments and the New Israel Fund (NIF).
Herzberg concluded saying "given that the Palestinians have committed tens of thousands of war crimes against Israeli civilians, they may find themselves facing prosecution not only for war crimes but crimes against humanity and genocide."
The PA's ICC move comes after its resolution at the UN Security Council unilaterally demanding recognition and Israeli withdrawals failed this week.
Explaining the move to Arutz Sheva, Shurat Hadin (Israel Law Center) director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said the highly politicized nature of the ICC means Israel is likely to lose such a case despite the falseness of the charges, a prospect that likely would lead to sanctions.
She added that the only deterrent against the PA actually fulfilling its threat is that it would lead to a bevy of war crimes charges against them as well, and likewise would lead Israel and the US to pull funding for the PA, effectively dismantling it.