BBSNews 2015-02-24 — By Michael Hess. A terrorism trial in Manhattan resulted in a verdict against the PA and the PLO for attacks that killed Americans, the metaphorical jury is still out on whether all Americans like Rachel Corrie or Furkan Doğan killed by Israel’s “defense” force will ever receive justice.
Many Israeli commentators have reacted gleefully to this verdict that Palestinian authorities have vowed to challenge, and Jerusalem Post’s Yonah Jeremy Bob was out front claiming that this lone verdict could change the impending outcome in the International Criminal Court’s preliminary investigation into war crimes and other violations of international law in Palestine and Israel.
JPost hurried out an article and exclaimed, “If the ICC prosecutor is on the fence, a major decision like this – and maybe more like it following – could push the narrative far enough in Israel’s favor that the prosecutor could be concerned about being viewed as having indirectly assisted terrorists.”
BBSNews asked the court’s Fadi El Abdallah about this claim and we were told in no uncertain terms, “the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) executes its mandate in strict conformity with the Rome Statute legal framework, with complete independence and impartiality and devoid of political considerations.”
We also asked about another inflammatory statement in the rushed JPost article where Bob wrote: “Investigating the second intifada could put him [Mahmoud Abbas] and his inner circle at legal risk – producing a situation where the ICC would be reliant on Abbas providing evidence against Israel, which in turn could present equally damaging testimony against him.”
Not so fast, as even commenters at the JPost article are pointing out, there is a time limit on this phase of the preliminary look into war crimes and other violations of international law in Palestine and Israel. El Abdallah told BBSNews, “As you may be aware, the Office of the Prosecutor is conducting a preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine, following Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute and its lodging of an article 12(3) declaration accepting the Court’s jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed in Palestine since June 13, 2014.
Purely, from a jurisdictional point of view, at this stage the ICC can theoretically investigate past crimes allegedly committed on the territory of Palestine by all sides to the conflict dating back to 13 June 2014 as the cut-off date.” [Emphasis added.]
The civil case was tried under the Antiterrorism Act of 1991. Senators Charles Grassley and Howell Heflin introduced the measure to define the term “international terrorism” in order to authorize U.S. citizens who were affected by an act of terrorism, or violent act that would be considered violations of U.S. laws, outside of the borders of the U.S. or it’s territories, to recover damages.
In addition to an automatic trebling of the awarded damages, the defendants are also responsible for attorney fees.
The case covered six acts of terror from 2002 to 2006. The New York Times reported that the case dragged out for a decade, “The verdict came in the seventh week of a civil trial during which the jury heard emotional testimony from survivors of suicide bombings and other attacks in Jerusalem, in which a total of 33 people were killed and more than 450 were injured.”