The truce between Israel and Hamas may turn out to be no more than a pause. Let us hope it will not, but at least that pause gives us the opportunity to reflect on the need for justice for the victims.
Ideally, Palestine will sign up to the International Criminal Court very shortly. President Abbas has been subjected to intense pressure from Israel and the USA to prevent him doing so, while Europe has tagged along behind them. But Abbas may now move in this direction in the aftermath of the carnage Israel has wreaked in Operation Protective Edge. According to a report in Tuesday’s Guardian, negotiations between the different parties in Palestine’s new unity government may finally be leading towards an application (which, incidentally, would raise the possibility of claims against Hamas and others, as well as Israel). On the same day, Riad Malki, the Palestinian Foreign Minister, visited the ICC in the Hague.
Palestine’s accession to the International Criminal Court is a cause Lib Dems should and must support. We should use our position in government to at least neutralise the dominant voices in the Conservative Party who will instinctively oppose it. We should also seek to influence our European partners on this issue.
Nick Clegg has called for an arms embargo on Israel, and for Israel to talk to Hamas – a point which has also been made by Paddy Ashdown, David Steel, John Alderdice and others. Nick has also been constantly pointing out that Israel’s actions have been disproportionate, wording which implies Israel has very probably committed war crimes, and which the Prime Minister still eschews. David Steel has even written that “the Netanyahu government is treating Palestinians as lesser human beings in exactly the same way the apartheid government treated the majority of its citizens”. To the best of our knowledge, no-one in the Conservative Party has mirrored such language. There is plenty of clear blue water between ourselves and the Tories on the Gaza