The decision by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, to open 'a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine' could have a concrete political impact in Israel/Palestine, but not because the ICC will end up charging officials for carrying out war crimes. The ICC has yet to address any violations carried out by Western liberal states. Simply put, the geography of the ICC's investigations – from Côte d'Ivoire to Uganda – both reflects and reproduces an old colonial frame of justice. Even within this blinkered framework, the court's success rate has not been particularly impressive: in its 12 years of existence, the ICC has carried out 21 investigations; only two people have been convicted. Given that record, why has Bensouda’s announcement provoked such outrage in the Israeli government?
The Libyan government has appealed against the International Criminal Court’s order to hand over Gaddafi’s longtime intelligence and security chief (and brother-in-law) Abdullah al-Sanusi for trial in The Hague. His lawyer, Ben Emmerson QC, said last week: ‘Libya's rebel authorities need to understand that the days of show trials and summary executions are over.’ Sanusi is regarded in Libya as bearing the prime responsibility after Gaddafi for such crimes as the 1996 Abu Salim prison massacre, in which 1200 people died, as well as Lockerbie, the bombing of a French airliner, the murder of Yvonne Fletcher, the disappearance of the Lebanese Shia leader Imam Musa Sadr and the supply of arms to the IRA. Were Sanusi handed over to the ICC, he could never be tried for these crimes.