The White House was not pleased on Friday when, in a 2-1 ruling, the International Criminal Court confirmed it had the jurisdiction to look into suspected war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian groups in the occupied territories. The Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, had asked the court’s pre-trial chamber last year to verify if Palestine — which the UN General Assembly recognized as a state in 2012 — could be regarded as a party to the Rome Statute. With this approval, a full investigation can now be opened.
The U.S. State Department expressed its opposition to the court’s decision, insisting that the ICC should only investigate countries that “consent” to the statute or that are referred by the UN Security Council (in other words, ruling out Israel and the United States). More importantly, spokesperson Ned Price said: “We do not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state, and therefore are not qualified to obtain membership as a state, or participate as a state in international organizations, entities, or conferences, including the ICC.”
This response from Washington, while expected, is rather amusing.
For three decades, the United States has made the establishment of a Palestinian state a centerpiece of its Middle East policy, constructing an entire “peace process” and investing immense political and financial capital to build one, at least on paper. The United States is now angry that this agenda is being pursued without its oversight — or, more precisely, without Israel’s.
For all its claims of supporting a fair solution to the conflict, Washington has been more concerned with “acting as Israel’s attorney,” as former U.S. negotiator Aaron David Miller put it, to ensure that any Palestinian entity born out of negotiations would remain subject to Israeli discretion.
It is no coincidence that the shriveled Palestinian state outlined in Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” starkly resembles the Oslo blueprint first facilitated by Bill Clinton; they, in turn, mirror the “state minus” advocated by Benjamin Netanyahu, the “entity less than a state” envisioned by Yitzhak Rabin, and the “autonomy plan” promoted by Menachem Begin. From economic dependence to military control, “peace” in Washington’s mind always entailed Israeli domination.