I’m still trying to plumb the meaning the Goldstone report. The Media Line has an interesting story interviewing Israeli legal experts who are critical of it about the potentially “dangerous” implications for Israel:
The…report…called on Israel to launch “genuine, impartial and independent” investigations into possible war crimes. Should Israel fail to do so, Goldstone recommended that Israel face the International Criminal Court and that individual countries use “universal jurisdiction” to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes.
Such a call could have extraordinary consequences both for Israeli military commanders and the country’s image as a whole.
“If European states allow unfettered universal jurisdiction, then it will be very difficult for Israelis of any kind to travel,” Dr Avi Bell, a professor in international law and the laws of war at Bar Ilan University told The Media Line. “If universal jurisdiction is open all over Europe, it’s going to be a very bad outcome for Israel, as plaintiffs can bring universal jurisdiction suits against Israelis to any sympathetic judge they like.”
Dr Bell said that the report’s potential consequences should be understood from two perspectives.
“On a technical level this will have no impact,” he said. “The commission made all sorts of recommendations which it had no authority to make and there is nothing in the UN security council’s charter or the International Criminal Court’s charter that indicates an obligation to listen to this commission.”
“On a political level though, it’s potentially disastrous,” he warned. “This report is designed to create fuel and ammunition for the UN’s diplomatic campaign against Israel and for a global legal campaign against Israel, including lawsuits by individual states.”
…”The International Criminal Court is more difficult to predict,” he added. “It’s really up to the judgment of the prosecutor and it’s a political decision more than a legal one. He’s under a lot of pressure to throw the Arabs a bone after indicting Sudanese President Bashir. This could make for an ideal bone.”
Another legal scholar noted the unlikeliness of the prospect of ICC jurisdiction:
“The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court will have to determine whether or not they have jurisdiction.”
“The International Criminal Court only has jurisdiction if the citizens they want to put on trial are from countries that are party to the International Criminal Court, if the crime took place in a country which is party to the International Criminal Court or if the Security Council refers the case to them,” he explained. “But Israel is not a party to the ICC, and there is no legal country Palestine, and the US has veto power in the Security Council. So it’s highly doubtful that will ever happen.”
I think the jurisdiction issue is not as clear cut as he’s making it out to be. But if the U.S. has veto power to stop the referral it will undoubtedly use it. What may be interesting is whether Obama will want to barter with the Israelis in return for the veto in order to get something useful for the peace effort (do I hear “settlement freeze” anyone?).
I do not know whether the report minus the ICC referral gives Europeans standing to file claims in European courts under the rubric of universal jurisdiction.
The Jerusalem Post carries an interesting interview today with Richard Goldstone’s daughter in which she speaks in a heartfelt way about his Jewish and Zionist (yes, Zionist) background:
“He is a Zionist,” she added. “My dad loves Israel and it wasn’t easy for him to see and hear what happened. I think he heard and saw things he didn’t expect to see and hear, and I am 100 percent sure he [conducted the investigation] in the hope that the Israelis would come to cooperate, and he wanted to help find a long-term solution for the State of Israel.”
Nicole, who lived in Israel for six months, said that the country “is the most important thing in my life, my heart is there…. I love Israel more than my family and friends and anything else.”
So much for the IFA and pro-Israel smear industry tarring him with the anti-Israel brush. The latest such is by Danny Ayalon likening the report to the UN “Zionism is Racism” resolution. Not to mention that Goldstone was chief prosecutor for the UN International Criminal Tribunals on Yugloslavia and Rwanda and chaired the International Inquiry on Kosovo. Hard to impeach his impartiality and probity, but it won’t stop them from trying. Maybe he has a Garlasco-like hobby and collects Boer War memorabilia (for any smearmongers out there, that’s a joke)?