Israeli Lawyer Plants Legal Trap for Palestinian Leader

Sunday, May 11, 2014 |  Yossi Aloni

The Palestinians and their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, have repeatedly threatened to drag Israeli politicians and army officers before the International Criminal Court in the Hague to stand trial for perceived war crimes. So far, the Palestinians have shied away from actually carrying out those threats due to Israeli counter-threats and feared confrontation with the Americans.

But it also now turns out that if Abbas turns to the Hague, the move will backfire spectacularly due to the efforts to an Israeli lawyer who beat him to the punch.

Already last year, Attorney Mordechai Zivin filed an official complaint with the court regarding Abbas and the leaders of Hamas. The complaint highlighted information implicating Mahmoud Abbas and members of the Hamas organization in acts of terrorism against Israeli, and requested a formal investigation.

Zivin argued that having been recognized as a non-member observer by the UN, the Palestinian Authority, with Abbas as its “head of state,” is legally responsible for all that happens in the West Bank and Gaza, especially acts of terrorist violence.

The official response from the Hague was that it would file Zivin’s complaint, but would only have the authority to act on it should Abbas file a similar complaint against Israel. So, the moment the Palestinian Authority approaches the Hague with claims of Israeli war crimes, it is likely to face the same exact charges itself, and be subjected to an investigation.

“The international court is a domain in which we can fight against terror, and we can’t sideline it,” Zivin said. “For years Palestinian organizations have been carrying out deadly terrorist activities, which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, and cause thousands of casualties among innocent civilians. Ironically, its actually Palestinian terrorist organizations who are using the International Criminal Court against senior Israel politicians and officers.”

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett has also gotten in on the action, and has begun putting together a coalition of organizations, many of them representing the bereaved families of loved ones killed in terrorist attacks. These organizations have started preparing a series of potential legal claims against the Palestinian leadership.

At this point, the idea is to create deterrence. If Abbas appeals to the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israel, he will immediately face prosecution himself.

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