Palestinians file ICC complaint against Trump, Kushner and Netanyahu over annexation

Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and Jared Kushner in Jerusalem, 22 May 2017

Brett Wilkins reports in Mondoweiss:

A prominent Canadian human rights lawyer has submitted a request to the International Criminal Court ICC to investigate senior U.S. and Israeli officials for alleged war crimes committed against the Palestinian people.

William Schabas, a professor of international law at Middlesex University in London, filed a lengthy Article 15 communication with the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor, or OTP on Tuesday asking for an investigation of the architects of the so-called “deal of the century,” also known as the Trump peace plan. The scheme would result in a nominally independent but effectively disjointed Palestinian “state” that would be established through land swaps with Israel and Israeli annexation. It would leave Palestinians cut off from each other in what some have called a “Swiss cheese state” and other have called “modern-day Bantustans.”

The new complaint, filed on behalf of four Palestinians from the West Bank, names President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who was placed in charge of brokering the deal despite having no experience in foreign policy or the Middle East. The four Palestinians named in the filing are: Ahmad al-Khaldi, Gassan Khaled, Hasan M. Masan and Abderrahman F. Zaidan.

Palestine’s leaders and people have roundly rejected the U.S. plan. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called it the “slap of the century,” while chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called it the “fraud of the century.”

“The threatened annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel is an international crime defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” Schabas said at a virtual press conference announcing the new filing. “It is intricately linked to the war crime of changing the population of an occupied territory.” Schabas added that ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda “needs to address this as part of her ongoing investigation, casting the net beyond the Israeli leaders to their partners and accomplices in Washington, including Trump, Pompeo and Kushner.”

Under Article 15 of the ICC Rome Statute, any person or organization can send information regarding alleged war crimes to the OTP. The ICC prosecutor then determines whether the situation warrants a formal investigation. The new Article 15 communication asserts that the proposed U.S. plan will lead to an increase in crimes which the OTP is currently investigating. The new complaint states there is credible evidence that Trump, Pompeo, Kushner and other senior U.S. officials are complicit in what could be war crimes under international law, including Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an “occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies.”

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