Bibi Keeps Liberman Out of Emergency Session

January 1, 2015  

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened an emergency discussion of the latest diplomatic developments vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority (PA) Thursday, but did not invite Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, according to Voice of Israel public radio.

The discussion followed PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s signing of the Rome Statute Wednesday, paving the way for the PA to file complaints against Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Director of the Foreign Ministry, Nissim Ben Sheetrit, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, as well as senior officials in the Justice Ministry were invited to the meeting, in which they took part – but Liberman was not.

Sources in the Foreign Ministry said that Netanyahu was afraid that Liberman’s recommendations for action would “challenge” him.

Sources in Netanyahu’s bureau said that the prime minister is the one determining Israel’s positions in the matter of the PA and that his decisions would be brought before the cabinet. 

The PA has had the option of applying for membership of the ICC and other UN agencies since late 2012 when it won recognition as a UN observer state. But it had agreed to hold off during nine months of abortive US-brokered peace negotiations with Israel that the PA torpedoed by signing a unity deal with Hamas.

The apparent decision to turn to the ICC is likely to backfire, however. By joining the Rome Statute, the PA – which as noted includes Hamas in a unity government – will also be exposed to potential Israeli lawsuits for war crimes, including the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians and use of Palestinian Arab civilians as human shields.

In a recent interview, the PA’s envoy to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) admitted the PA has no hope of pressing charges against Israel in international courts – because Palestinian terrorist groups are far worse violators of international law themselves.

The desperate move follows the PA’s failed attempt in a UN Security Council vote Tuesday night to pass a draft resolution calling for Israel to withdraw from Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem by 2017, as well as unilaterally demanding recognition in breach of the Oslo Accords.

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