Dear Member of the Irish Parliament,
Palestinian human rights organisations Al-Haq based in Ramallah, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights based in Gaza, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights based in Gaza call on all members of the Oireachtas to fully support the Sinn Féin motion on the International Criminal Court. The situation before the International Criminal Court is fragile, and must be protected and buttressed against attack, we call on Irish TDs to refer the Situation in Palestine to the International Criminal Court, and to make a financial contribution to ensure that the Court has the appropriate resources to carry out its unique mandate.
Our organisations have worked with the Court since 2008, calling for the opening of an investigation into Israeli crimes being committed in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Palestinian referral in 2008 followed the most serious Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip at the time, the so-called Operation Cast Lead, when 1,410 Palestinians were killed during Israel’s indiscriminate military offensive on the Gaza Strip. Prosecutor Ocampo stalled the application for three years, and then denied the referral on the basis of the question of Palestine’s statehood. In 2015, following the State of Palestine’s acceptance as a UN non-member observer State, Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute and referred the situation before the Court back to 13 June 2014. This timeframe provided the Court with jurisdiction to examine the most heinous attacks on the Gaza Strip, from another devastating Israeli military offensive in 2014, so-called Operation Protective Edge, which killed 2,219 Palestinians and left the Gaza Strip devastated and economically crippled.
Since then, due to the highly charged “politicised” nature of the question of Palestine, which has seen the Palestinian people’s rights subjugated to an “exception” in international law, the Situation in Palestine before the Court has been stalled and delayed beyond reason. After five years of preliminary examination, the case was sent for a question on territorial jurisdiction to the Pre-Trial Chamber, taking almost another two years before the investigation was opened. When the investigation was finally opened in 2021, President Trump launched an unprecedented attack on the International Criminal Court, in an Executive Order that promised to protect friends of the United States from prosecution, including Israel- a move that would have had serious consequences on justice avenues for Palestinian victims. We are still waiting for the prosecutions of the cases that Prosecutor Bensouda presented to the Pre-Trial Chamber as requiring investigation, back in 2019.
Since then, the United States and the United Kingdom, have entered into cooperation agreements with Israel to circumvent the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in the Situation of Palestine. In 2022, the US and Israel, pledged to “continue to work together to combat all efforts… to unfairly single [Israel] out in any forum, including at the United Nations or the International Criminal Court” which they label as a so-called “source of antisemitism”. In 2023, in a Memorandum of Understanding concluded between British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, and Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, named the 2030 Roadmap for UK-Israeli Bilateral Relations the UK and Israel agreed to “work together to tackle the singling out of Israel in the Human Rights Council as well as in other international bodies. In this context, the UK and Israel disagree with the use of the term ‘apartheid’ with regard to Israel”.
This year, the Situation in Palestine, was the least funded situation before the Court. It is chronically under-resourced, making an effective, full investigation difficult to achieve. At a budget of €944,000 compared to the Ukrainian investigation budget of €4,449,000, the Situation in Palestine has been set up financially, to fail. We recall that Ireland has committed three million euros to the situation in the Ukraine, to ensure its viability, and we urge that Ireland makes a similar contribution to the International Criminal Court, to ensure resources for the investigation into international crimes committed on the territory of Palestine.
We are now facing an unfolding genocide in Palestine. On October 19th a group of UN Special Rapporteurs “sounded the alarm” for the international community to intervene to prevent the genocidal acts against the Palestinian people. So far, those calls have gone unheeded, and 11,078 Palestinians have been killed. There must be accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Decades of impunity and disregard for international law, has brought us to the precipice of lawlessness that we are witnessing today. We call on Ireland to protect the International Criminal Court as the only accountability mechanism where Palestinian victims can seek justice for international crimes.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights