Prosecute Israeli Crimes At Jenin: Sharon to The Hague!

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(The author served as Legal Advisor: to the Palestine Liberation Organization on Creation of the State of Palestine (1987-1989), to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations (1991-1993) and sometime to the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine. The viewpoints expressed here are his own.)

The Israeli government inflicted war crimes, grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and a Crime against Humanity against the inhabitants of Jenin. The United Nations must prosecute these international crimes for the exact same reasons that it created the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Both of these ad hoc international criminal tribunals were established by the United Nations Security Council with the approval of the United States government, a Permanent Member thereof with a veto power. But it has already been publicly reported that the Bush Jr. administration intervened with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to head off an investigation of Jenin as authorized by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1405 (19 April 2002).

Despite such unconscionable but continual U.S. obstructionism at the Security Council when it comes to protecting the basic human rights of the Palestinian People, the U.N. General Assembly has concurrent jurisdiction under the United Nations Charter to investigate and prosecute Israeli government officials é both civilian and military é for the international crimes that they have ordered, committed, condoned, and approved at Jenin and elsewhere in Palestine. We must pressure the member states of the U.N. General Assembly to found an International Criminal Tribunal for Palestine (ICTP) in order to prosecute Israeli war criminals, both military and civilian, including and especially Israeli political leaders such as Sharon. The U.N. General Assembly can set up this ICTP by a majority vote pursuant to its powers to establish “subsidiary organs” under U.N. Charter Article 22. This International Criminal Tribunal for Palestine should be organized by the U.N. General Assembly along the same lines as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which deals with international armed conflicts.

In this regard, back in 1993 as the Lawyer for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I sued the rump Yugoslavia for committing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention before the International Court of Justice in the Hague. I also did the very best I could to personally implicate Slobodan Milosevic and his henchmen for ordering and committing these international crimes against the Bosnians. At the time I never realistically expected that less than nine years later Milosevic himself and his henchmen would be on trial in The Hague for committing these heinous international crimes against the Bosnians.

For similar reasons, Sharon and his henchmen must also stand on trial in The Hague for perpetrating the exact same types of international crimes against the Palestinian People at Jenin and elsewhere in Palestine. It is up to us to bring Sharon and his henchmen to Justice in The Hague. Milosevic and Sharon will get along quite well with each other in The Hague because they have so much in common to talk about: war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Mr. Francis A. Boyle is a Professor in International Law.

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