The day after the UNGA voted to give Palestine status of state

The day after the vote in the UN’s General Assembly, the sky is blue + cloudless, sun is shining, everything glistens  It is Friday, so it is quiet.

On Palestine Television, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Awqaf  [Islamic Trusts, Mahmoud Habbash, gave the Friday prayer sermon in a mosque in Al-Bireh, next to Ramallah, that was shown on Palestine TV: he was happy about the UN vote.

The PA Minister of Awqaf [he is a former member of Hamas] said that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas had followed pathway indicated by long line of martyrs [including Hamas co-founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin + Fatah co-founder Yasser Arafat].

He said:  West Bank, Gaza. Fateh, Hamas. Palestine is above all this, bigger, more important.

Now that the borders of Palestine are outlined and recognized by the UNGA, he said, the question is: why did the settlers decide to live here?  Why in this spot on earth?  Eventually, he asserted, the settlers will leave, they won’t stay here forever.  But, he said, the settler-terrorists — those who have attacked Palestinians and/or their property, must go.

Reaction seemed mixed in the all-male congregation at the Friday prayer sermon given by the PA’s Minister of Awqaf.  Some men looked at floor; some stared intently, unblinkingly, at the speaker. One old man wearing a kuffiyeh on his head, wiped away tears.

Judging from the Friday prayer sermon given by the PA Min of Awqaf, a more proprietary attitude may appear: “We will be masters on our land”…

Hanan Ashrawi, the public face of the push behind yesterday’s UNGA vote, said on Palestine TV [was it a re-play from last night?], explaining the effect of the UNGA vote: “We are now a state”.   She did not waiver in her optimism, despite the polite and well-mannered scepticism of the program host about the lack of prospects for any reach change.

Los Angeles Times correspondent Ed Saunders wrote a piece posted here yesterday, before the vote, that “Keeping hopes high and expectations low is a strategy Palestinians have used for decades to get through the ups and downs of their statehood campaign. Such sentiments were on full display here Thursday”.

But the day after, it was clear that expectations are indeed raised — and that it feels good.

UPDATE: the PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki tried — and failed — in February 2009 to get the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into Israel’s Operation Cast Lead [27 Dec 2008-18 January 2009].  It was later explained that Palestine could not do this because it was not a state.  Now that Palestine does have state status, the international law blog Opinio Juris [] made the following points on Palestinian ratification or accession to the International Criminal Court [possible ad hoc acceptance of its jurisdiction], in an article, posted here:

“In the wake of today’s long-overdue vote to upgrade Palestine to observer-state status, there seems to be persistent confusion concerning what would happen if Palestine ratified the Rome Statute. In particular, a number of commentators seem to think that it is unclear whether the ICC would have jurisdiction over crimes committed prior to Palestine’s ratification … In fact, the Rome Statute leaves no doubt whatsoever that Palestine could (but would not be required to) accept the Court’s jurisdiction retroactive to 1 July 2002, the date the Rome Statute entered into force. The relevant provisions are Articles 11(2) and 12(3):
11(2): If a State becomes a Party to this Statute after its entry into force, the Court may exercise its jurisdiction only with respect to crimes committed after the entry into force of this Statute for that State, unless that State has made a declaration under article 12, paragraph 3.
12(3): If the acceptance of a State which is not a Party to this Statute is required under paragraph 2, that State may, by declaration lodged with the Registrar, accept the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court with respect to the crime in question. The accepting State shall cooperate with the Court without any delay or exception in accordance with Part 9″.

However, the author also notes that: “Palestine would not have to ratify the Rome Statute to refer the situation in Gaza to the ICC. It could also accept the Court’s jurisdiction on an ad hoc basis, pursuant to Article 12(3). And it could do so retroactively, as the Cote d’Ivoire precedent indicates. (Cote d’Ivore, a non-member state, accepted the Court’s jurisdiction on 18 April 2003 retroactive to 19 September 2002.)”

The author, echoing comments made recently by Israeli officials, added:
“Finally, I’ll say it once again: Palestine should be careful what it wishes for. I think it is highly likely that, if the OTP investigated the situation in Gaza, Palestinians would end up in the dock long before Israelis. From a legal perspective, Fatou Bensouda would find it much easier to prosecute Hamas’s deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians than Israel’s disproportionate attacks, collective punishment of Palestinians, and transfer of its civilians into occupied territory. The latter crimes are fraught with ambiguity and difficult to prove. I know I wouldn’t start with them, were I the Prosecutor”

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