A Wall Street Journal Editorial:
A conceit of Obama Administration diplomacy is that international institutions invariably serve U.S. interests. The opposite has been true for nearly four years concerning Syria at the United Nations, and now the Palestinians are using the International Criminal Court against Israel.
On Friday the Palestinian Authority filed papers to join the treaty that created the ICC, which would allow investigations against Israel for war crimes. This “is an option that we are seeking in order to seek justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power,” said Riyad Monsour, the Palestinian observer at the U.N. He added that the PA is also seeking retroactive ICC jurisdiction “with regard to the crimes committed during the last war in Gaza.”
By rights that would mean investigating the Palestinian terror group Hamas for starting the Gaza conflict by firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately into Israel. The Fatah party that runs the PA formed a unity government with Hamas last year. But in the upside-down moral universe that is the U.N., Israel will be put in the dock for defending innocent civilians by destroying the missile launchers and the tunnels where Hamas was hiding them.
The Palestinians are also trying to force a vote at the U.N. Security Council declaring an independent state, never mind the failure of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations sponsored by the U.S. The resolution failed this week, but next year it will likely get the nine necessary votes, which means the U.S. would have to use its Security Council veto to stop it. This week the U.S. couldn’t even convince the French, who voted in favor, and the British, who abstained, to oppose the statehood resolution.
The Palestinian actions won’t achieve anything tangible, and they may help push even more Israeli voters toward hawkish candidates in elections scheduled for March. The ICC move will also put at risk the $400 million or so that the U.S. gives the Palestine government each year. Congress has stipulated that the funds be cut off if the PA uses the ICC to make claims against Israel.
Palestinian leaders are embracing the fantasy that they can use international pressure to coerce from Israel the territory they will never get until they make concessions to Israeli security and right to exist. The U.S. should make clear that it won’t hesitate to use its U.N. veto, and that if the Palestinians proceed at the ICC they will have seen their last dollar of American aid.