Organizations in the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy send out action alerts monthly, focusing on different issues so that members of Congress hear consistently that their constituents support a just and lasting resolution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.
Following the defeat of a UN Security Council resolution that would have set parameters and a timeline for addressing the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas signed a number of international treaties and conventions including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), paving the way for Palestine to join the ICC. Palestine’s membership in the ICC is scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2015 if everything proceeds according to protocol.
Israel responded by freezing $127.6 million in tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, and an Israeli official reportedly indicated this “is only a first step in response to the Palestinian moves at the United Nations.” In a January 5 press briefing the U.S. State Department expressed opposition to the freeze in funds, calling it an action that raised tensions. At the same time, the State Department spokesperson called the Palestinian move to join the ICC “counterproductive,” saying, “We’re deeply troubled by the Palestinian action regarding the ICC.”
Current U.S. legislation does not require a halt to U.S. aid to the Palestinians for signing treaties, including the Rome Treaty, but it would require a cut off of aid if the ICC undertakes an investigation of Israeli actions at the behest of the Palestinians or with their support.
Some in Congress are calling for immediate punitive measures. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a bill that would stop U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until the Palestinians withdraw their ICC bid, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) issued a statement saying in part, “Congress must do everything in its power to block funds to the PA and to any UN entity that recognizes a non-existent State of Palestine to make it clear to Abu Mazen that there will be consequences to his schemes at the United Nations and other international organizations like the International Criminal Court.”
Rather than punish the Palestinians for moves to sign treaties and conventions, including those leading to Palestinian membership in the ICC, the U.S. should support such non-violent means of pursuing justice. It also should be recognized that in joining the ICC, the door will be open to investigations of both Israeli and Palestinian actions.
Call on Congress and the president to:
- Refrain from punishing the Palestinians for joining international treaties and conventions and placing themselves and the conflict under the scrutiny of international law
- Urge Israel to release tax revenues belonging to the Palestinians
Use this link to send your message.