The celebrations by Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership during the course of the 13th Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC), in New York, on December 8, 2014, at their being invited to participate as an observer in the deliberations of the ICC Assembly of states parties1, would appear to indicate a major element of ignorance and naiveté on the part of the Palestinian leadership, as to the significance of such participation.
Failing such naiveté and ignorance, their statements are nothing more than a deliberate attempt to mislead the international public — and especially the Israeli leadership and public — into thinking that observer participation in an administrative body that regulates the management of the court, could in any way advance the oft-declared Palestinian hopes and aims to become a state party to the court and to attempt to institute claims against Israeli officials.
Any impression that this procedural and insignificant event could represent, in the words of the PLO representative to the UN “a signal that we are inching closer to the moment of signing on and becoming a state party to the ICC”, or that this event could give a “moral boost” to the Palestinian attempts to manipulate the court, are clearly misguided and mistaken.
In the words of the President of the Assembly of States Parties, “this step is not indicative of any action the court’s judicial body might later take…”
As defined on its website, the Assembly of States Parties is nothing more than “the management oversight and legislative body of the International Criminal Court.” Its function is to “decide on various items, such as the adoption of normative texts and of the budget, the election of the judges and of the Prosecutor and the Deputy Prosecutor(s).”2
As explained by the President of the Assembly, the Palestinian participation is based on Rule 94 of the Assembly’s rules of procedure which enable the president, at the beginning of a session, to invite “states” which are not parties to the Rome Statute, to attend the proceedings.
In this context, interestingly enough, the fact that the president of the Assembly has attributed to the PLO delegation the status of a “state,” for the purposes of rule 94, would appear to raise legal issues in light of the fact that by all accepted international criteria, there exists no Palestinian state, and the 2012 UN General Assembly Palestinian upgrade resolution did not establish a Palestinian state.
As such, the invitation to the Palestinian delegation to take part in the meeting of the Assembly of States Parties can be seen to be of doubtful legal veracity.
It is clearly politically motivated as a further attempt by the Palestinians to politicize the International Criminal Court in direct contravention of the aims of its founding fathers and the very terms of its Statute, according to which the court should be an independent judicial institution.
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