Palestinians renew ICC push against Israel despite US pressure

Palestine Liberation Organization's Secretary General Saeb Erekat speaks to journalists during a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on September 11, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2018
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Palestinians renew ICC push against Israel despite US pressure

  • International powers say Khan Al-Ahmar's demolition could enable Israeli settlement expansion that would eventually cut the West Bank in two
  • The White House cited the Palestinians’ ICC campaign and what it said was their unwillingness to negotiate

RAMALLAH: The Palestinians announced a fresh push against Israel at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday, a day after the United States said it was closing their Washington mission partly over the campaign.
Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said it had submitted a new complaint over an Israeli “war crime” against a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank, expected to be demolished by the Israeli army in the coming days.
The dossier “included a focus on the war crimes facing Khan Al-Ahmar, specifically the crimes of forcible displacement, ethnic cleansing and the destruction of civilian property,” Erekat said.
He added that the PLO had also asked the ICC’s prosecutor to speed up a preliminary probe into other alleged Israeli war crimes.
Khan Al-Ahmar is in a key location near Jerusalem.
International powers say its demolition could enable Israeli settlement expansion that would eventually cut the West Bank in two, further threatening the prospects of an independent Palestinian state.
It could be demolished in the coming days, following an Israeli high court ruling that it was built without the necessary permits.
The Palestinians submitted a similar complaint regarding the village in July.
The latest submission came a day after the US confirmed it would close the PLO’s office in Washington, the highest Palestinian representation in the country, amid worsening relations between the two.
The White House cited the Palestinians’ ICC campaign and what it said was their unwillingness to negotiate.
The Palestinian leadership cut off contact with the administration of President Donald Trump after he recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.
Trump’s administration has also cut more than $500 million in aid to Palestinians, including to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, since January.
Palestinian leaders say the administration is blatantly biased in favor of Israel and is seeking to blackmail them into accepting the White House’s moves.
On Monday, John Bolton, national security adviser to Trump, attacked the ICC, threatening to sanction judges and other officials if they moved against US soldiers or those of key allies.
“The US threats against the ICC (are) a coup against the rules-based international system,” Erekat.
“If you worry about courts, you should not threaten the courts — you should stop committing crimes or aiding and abetting crimes.”
The ICC launched a preliminary probe in 2015 into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and the Palestinian territories, in the wake of the Gaza war the previous year.
It has yet to move to the next stage and open a full-blown investigation which could possibly lead to charges.


HRW criticizes Italy, EU’s Libya migrant policy

Updated 14 min 25 sec ago
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HRW criticizes Italy, EU’s Libya migrant policy

  • Rights group says that unquestioning foreign support for Libya leads to migrants being held in “arbitrary, abusive detention”

CAIRO: Human Rights Watch is urging Italy and the EU to condition their support to Libya on tangible improvements in detention conditions for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

The New York-based rights group says in a report Monday that unquestioning foreign support for Libya’s coast guard leads to migrants being held in “arbitrary, abusive detention.”

It condemned such efforts to stem migration to Europe as contributing “to a cycle of extreme abuse” against people fleeing war and poverty.

The report documents “severe overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, and lack of adequate health care” in detention centers, including at least four instances of violent abuse by guards.

It says children have also been seen to be held in poor conditions.

Millions of migrants have applied for asylum in Europe, but some countries have toughened their asylum laws and tried to deport more people than they did previously.

On Sunday, a private rescue boat carrying dozens of migrants said that for a second day several nations had not given permission for it to enter a safe port, while another vessel filled with panicky migrants and described as taking on water in the southern Mediterranean was helped by a cargo ship.

The Dutch-flagged boat Sea-Watch 3, run by a German non-governmental group, said it had contacted Italy, Malta, Libya and the Netherlands asking where it could land the 47 migrants it had taken aboard. Sea-Watch tweeted that Libyan officials hung up when it asked for a port assignment.

An Italian state TV reporter aboard Sea-Watch 3 said the rescue took place Saturday about 50 km off the coast west of Tripoli in Libya’s search-and-rescue area. Libya-based human traffickers launch flimsy or rickety boats crowded with migrants hoping to reach Europe and its opportunities for better lives.