Fatou Bensouda, the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), has undertaken efforts to launch two simultaneous investigations of alleged crimes against humanity: One against the United States, for crimes it allegedly carried out in Afghanistan, and another against Israel, for crimes it purportedly committed in the Palestinian Authority controlled territories, which the prosecutor is ready to consider as the “state of Palestine,” though such a state does not exist.
What is notable about these parallel efforts by the ICC to investigate both the United States and Israel is that the NGOs and individuals pursuing both cases are closely related. The two international NGOs advancing the case against the US, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), are closely related to the Palestinian NGOs that brought the complaint against Israel to the ICC (Al-Haq, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Al Mezan and Al-Dameer) and were intimately involved in their submissions to the court.
The above referenced complainant organizations to the ICC against Israel and the United States – Al-Haq, Al-Dameer, Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights – maintain strong ties to the designated terror organizations Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), according to a report published in 2019 by the Israeli government. They are far from being human rights organizations as they have falsely represented themselves, as they maintain close ties to terror organizations designated by US State Department and the European Union. For example, Shawan Jabarin, Executive Director of Al-Haq since 2006, is a former senior operative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and has served multiple prison sentences for his terror affiliated activity. Israel’s Supreme Court called Jabarin “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” for his simultaneous terror-affiliated activityandhisleadershipoftheAl-Haq”HumanRights”group. In May 2018, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express shut down online credit card donations to Al- Haq due to the group’s ties to the PFLP. Shawan Jabarin has been denied exit visas by Israel and Jordan. Leaders of the other Palestinian NGOs have similarly maintained close ties to the PFLP, Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups. They have been active in working against US policy in the Middle East, condemning the US Administration’s declarations regarding the Golan Heights, Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.
It is not only that Al-Haq, PCHR and Al Mezan are members of FIDH, but Al-Haq’s director, Shawan Jabarin, is the secretary general of FIDH. Moreover, Raji Sourani, the general director of PCHR, is the former vice president of FIDH. Nada Kiswanson van Hooydonk and Katherine Gallagher, who represented the victims, FIDH and CCR in the case against the US, were also engaged with the Palestinian submission. Kiswanson was the head of Al-Haq’s office in The Hague, and Gallagher, who represents CCR in the Afghanistan case, was part of the delegation that submitted the Palestinian NGOs’ opinion to the ICC prosecutor.
It should be noted that CCR and FIDH are also deeply involved in other legal aspects of anti-Israel activities, including boycott, sanctions, and divestment (BDS) initiatives, and that the four Palestinian NGOs that filed the complaint to the ICC have close relationships with terror organizations designated by the European Union and the US State Department, especially with the PFLP. As noted above, Shawan Jabarin was convicted of terror activities in the PFLP and imprisoned for three years.
Moreover, the impartiality of ICC prosecutor Bensouda in those cases is doubtful due to the special nature of her relations with FIDH. In the past few years FIDH and Bensouda have maintained close ties, as described on FIDH’s website, as a “close relationship with the Court. ”In 2015, Bensouda visited FIDH’s headquarters in Paris, and in 2019, she participated in FIDH’s 40th Congress as one of the main speakers.
It may come as little surprise that, according to Jordanian sources, the prosecutor hinted to the Palestinians that the entire process of her conducting a preliminary examination as to whether the court has the authority to proceed with investigating the case against Israel was meant only to protect the court from criticism, while she had already decided to move the case forward.
In short, the particularly close relationships between the accusing organizations in both cases reveal the politicized nature of these complaints. Moreover, the overlapping connections between the Palestinian NGOs and terror groups and between Bensouda and FIDH raise serious questions about objectivity and intent.
For the full report (PDF): press here
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser Dan Diker, published on Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs