There has been a lot of handwringing and condemnation over the International Criminal Court’s recent ruling that it has jurisdiction to investigate the State of Israel for what it perceives as “war crimes”.
We all know the absurdity, illegality and hypocrisy of this decision. However, the question we must ask ourselves is: could we have stopped this process or even still prevent it from continuing?
The whole process began in 2015, when the “Government of Palestine” lodged a declaration under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute accepting the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged crimes committed "in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014". On 2 January 2015, the "Government of Palestine" acceded to the Rome Statute by depositing its instrument of accession with the UN Secretary-General. The Rome Statute entered into force on 1 April 2015.
This means that successive Israeli governments failed in preventing or stopping this process before we reached this point.
While some say this is a biased process, after all the same ICC decided not to open cases against serial human rights abusers because they are not, like Israel is not, signatories to the Rome Statute.
Nevertheless, this would be a dereliction of duty.
From the moment the Palestinian Authority joined the Rome Statute it was clear that this is the direction they were heading in. By taking this aggressive step, they opened another avenue of “Lawfare” against the Jewish State, and our response has been largely limp.
Yes, we should be engaging our greatest international legal minds to try and fight this, but we have yet to use the one strategy that could exit Israel from this process in a small amount of time.
It is clear that by moving forward in this process, the Palestinian Authority is openly stating that it is at war with the State of Israel and its citizens. This should be as obvious to all as if they had launched rockets on our population centers.
This is an attack on the IDF, whose brave soldiers keep Israel safe. An attack on them is an attack on our security.
This declaration of war should have been met with severe ramifications.
Israel should have cut off all coordination and partnerships with the Palestinian Authority.
It has tremendous leverage over the Palestinian Authority that it simply has not used. Israel could have used the tax money it collects for the Palestinian Authority; it could have supplied electricity according to the amount it pays for, rarely above 10%, it could have reduced the benefits that Palestinian Arab prisoners receive while in Israeli prisons. The list is endless.
Israel could, and certainly should, fight fire with fire. It could have put out arrest warrants for senior Palestinian Authority leaders involved in incitement and the ‘Pay for Slay’ program.
It should immediately proscribe anyone who works for the Palestinian Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, especially its Director Qadri Abu Bakr, as sponsors of terror because of their direct involvement in the monthly payments to terrorists and their families.
It can put out an arrest warrant for Jibril Rajoub for his constant and incessant incitement against Israel. Rajoub has said in the past: “Palestinians are enemies of Israel; if we had nuclear weapons, we would use them against Israel.”
Rajoub is the leader of a new project to honor all Palestinians who have died as so-called “Martyrs” since 1917. The PA will eventually plant 35,000 olive trees throughout the PA areas with each tree named after a “Martyr.” The PA defines all terrorists killed while attacking Israelis - including suicide bombers and mass murderers - as “Martyrs.” This is the largest systematic PA project to honor terrorist murderers ever documented.
One just has to peruse the website of Palestinian Media Watch to witness the daily incitement to murder and glorification of terror.
There is no excuse.
Israel should see this as just another front in the over-100-year war against Jewish sovereignty in its ancestral and indigenous homeland, and respond accordingly.
It should use all of its tools available to defeat the Palestinian Arabs on this and every front.
The Palestinians have taken off their gloves, if they ever even had them on. Israel should do likewise.
Bringing Israel or Israelis into the international dock is more than a declaration of war, it is an aim to defeat Israel by other means. It is an attack on those who protect us. Its chilling aim is to weaken our defenses and make every Israeli more vulnerable.
We can not sit idly by, merely condemning and talking about hypocrisy.
We must act, and act now.
We must break the Palestinian Authority leaders’ will to continue this process. They can stop it at any time, and they should be pressured intensely and ruthlessly to do so.
Only overwhelming strength will win the day on this battlefield that the Palestinians have chosen for us and achieve an Israel victory.
The ball is now in the court of Israel’s decision-makers. Harshly worded press releases and empty threats will not protect our soldiers.
Only an Israel victory will.
Alex Nachumson is an IDF Military Commander (Res) and CEO of Mivtachi Israel, an organization of former senior IDF Officers.