US Lawmakers Threaten to Suspend Aid to Palestinian Authority
Recently, members of the US Congress warned that economic aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) could be suspended because the PA submitted allegations against Israeli forces to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This most recent threat comes after many warnings and condemnations by the US government over the PA’s bid to become a member of the ICC. Palestine became a member of the ICC last April in order to hold Israel accountable for war crimes committed against Palestinians.
In a press release, the US State Department condemned the move stating:
“[W]e do not believe Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe it is eligible to join the ICC…The place to resolve the differences between the parties is through direct negotiations, not unilateral actions by either side. We will continue to oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive to peace.”
In response to the PA’s bid to join the ICC, Obama signed an appropriations act in December 2014 which prohibits aid to the PA should they “initiate an International Criminal Court judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.” This provision forms the basis of the current threat on US aid to the PA.
The United States government’s threat to withdraw aid from the PA is consistent with the government’s behavior regarding Israel and Palestine. The United States has a history of acting favorably towards Israel and taking action to shield Israel from criticism and condemnation by the international community.
While the government claims to support a peaceful resolution to the conflict through negotiations, the past twenty years of American brokered peace talks have resulted in rapid settlement expansion, continued Israeli land grabs, and three assaults on the Gaza Strip, killing thousands of Palestinian civilians.
As a result, US protection of Israeli actions, including shielding Israel from judicial investigation facilitates and enables the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land.
Regarding attempts to punish Palestinians for seeking justice through the ICC, Balkees Jarrah, international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch stated:
“Governments seeking to penalize Palestine for joining the ICC should immediately end their pressure, and countries that support universal acceptance of the court’s treaty should speak out to welcome its membership. What’s objectionable is the attempts to undermine international justice, not Palestine’s decision to join a treaty to which over 100 countries around the world are members.”
In spite of western opposition to Palestinian membership in the ICC and United States government threats to end funding, the ICC is an important avenue for Palestine and the international community to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against Palestinians.