Tribunal: Probe Israel's 'Crimes' in 'Palestine'

Russell Tribunal calls on the ICC to investigate alleged crimes committed by Israel in "Palestine". Foreign Ministry dismisses the call.

Elad Benari ,

Arab rioters (archive)
Arab rioters (archive)
Flash 90

A tribunal has called on the International Criminal Court to investigate so-called “crimes” allegedly committed by Israel in “Palestinian territories”, AFP reported.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) made the call on Sunday as it wrapped up four years of investigation, according to the report.

Meeting in Brussels, the people's tribunal, which has no legal status, said it would "support all initiatives from civil society and international organizations aimed at bringing Israel in front of the International Criminal Court."

The tribunal also called on the ICC to recognize “Palestinian jurisdiction” and for an extraordinary session of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid, set up for South Africa, to this time examine the Israeli case.

Previously presided by Stephane Hessel, who died on February 27, the RToP is modelled on the Russell Tribunal on Vietnam, a private investigative body which examined American foreign policy during the Vietnam War, named after the British philosopher Bertrand Russell.

RToP members include prominent rights activist Angela Davis and ex-Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters. Hessel, a Holocaust survivor, told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung a few months ago that the Nazi occupation was "relatively harmless" compared to the "Israeli occupation of Palestine".

The watchdog group Eye on the UN recently created a video that shows Waters in testimony before the UN, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and lying about Hamas's policy toward the Jewish state.

Since it was set up in 2009, RToP has gathered evidence from experts and witnesses to make 26 recommendations on Sunday, in its fifth and final session after previous meetings around the world.

These include "further criminal investigations of corporations aiding and abetting Israeli violations" and the "establishment of an international committee of former political prisoners to campaign on prisoner issues".

Members of the tribunal also criticized the United States, but also the UN and the European Union for policy that was "complicit" in what it says are Israel's “violations of international law.”

The tribunal also called for a boycott on imports of goods produced in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Israel dismissed the conclusions which it said had no real weight.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP, "They can write what they like, they only represent themselves. It's a private body with no legal or political weight and has moral weight only among its members."

"It has no political or legal significance, it is an ideological and propaganda document that people write for their like-minded friends," said Palmor.

In October, the European Jewish Parliament condemned the so -called "tribunal" whose sole purpose, it said, "is the demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish State of Israel."

"The ‘Tribunal only focuses on the question of Arab refugees resulting from the war of aggression launched against Israel in 1948. It completely ignores the forced exodus of one million Jewish refugees from Arab countries at the same time," the Jewish parliament said at the time, stressing that United Nations Resolution 242 calls for a "just settlement of the refugee problem which applies to Jewish and Arab refugees alike."

Since the Palestinian Authority was awarded observer status at the UN in November, it can now file complaints against Israel with the ICC.

Issa Karaka, the Palestinian Authority's Minister for Prisoner Affairs, said last week he would urge PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas to enroll the PA in as many international organizations as possible as quickly as is feasible, in order to capitalize on the UN recognition and use its standing in the international community to sue and prosecute Israel.

At a press conference in Ramallah, Karaka said that the PA should join the Geneva Convention, and once admitted, use the Convention's provisions to prosecute Israel in the International Criminal Court for “crimes against the Palestinian nation,” he said.

Previously, the PA threatened to launch an International Criminal Court case if the new Israeli government allows new Jewish construction near Jerusalem.