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Media Week - When balance is academic

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When balance is academic

ABC Radio's "Late Night Live" on Feb. 9 was a ‘classic'.

Host Phillip Adams and Tasmanian academic Matt Killingsworth egged each other on in highlighting the virtues of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) recent decision to seek membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an opportunity to hold Israel to account.

Killingsworth said the move to join stemmed from a "general frustration" at the "ongoing violence" and the "stalling of the peace process".

Seeing as the violence and the moribund nature of the peace process are both Fatah and Hamas' doing, not Israel's, maybe they should reconsider their choices?

Killingsworth said, "it was important to know" that the PA also joined a number of other "international organisations" as part of a "broader process of statehood".

Actually, application to those organisations was not about advancing Palestinian state building but seeking further international venues to attack Israel.

You might think Killingsworth, a member of the Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Committee, might have had something to say on whether the atrocious human rights records of both Hamas and Fatah should rule out Palestinian statehood. However, he didn't.

While there was nominal discussion that the ICC could investigate the PA and Hamas, neither Adams nor Killingsworth listed possible avenues of investigation.

Killingsworth saw the ICC move as a "step forward" because "what we've had is that Israel have been... the sole determinants in what constitutes war crimes within that area".

He suggested it was not appropriate for Israel to carry out its own internal investigations into the actions of the Israel Defence Forces because they have "generally argued...the idea of national security and protecting the Israeli state" and that its "forces have acted within the laws of war... this is despite... groups such as Human Rights Watch who are highly critical of the use of white phosphorous" in the 2008/2009 conflict which he claimed was used "without proportionality in high density populated areas."

Never fear though, according to Killingsworth, if Israel conducts "proper judicial investigations that satisfies the court into the actions of their forces," then the ICC would have no "remit" to investigate.

And if Israel's conclusion still differed from Human Rights Watch, which applies a dramatically lower threshold for witness testimonies than any real criminal investigation, then what? Will Killingsworth accept the decision?

Naturally, no such spotlight was focused on the adequacy of the Palestinians to investigate their own conduct.

In contrast to Adams and Killingsworth, in an op-ed on this topic (Canberra Times, Feb. 9) Sydney lawyer and legal academic David Knoll addressed the issue of alleged Palestinian war crimes.

According to Knoll, "the policy of the Palestinian Authority, publicly promoted, is to continue to verbally support active terrorist actions, which they call 'resistance', until Palestinian claims are met. These actions, which, to the extent they target civilians, in large part might be crimes under international law, even though they are not regarded as crimes by the Palestinian Authority. It is unrealistic to imagine Palestinian authorities will suddenly agree to start prosecuting them."

That tells you all you need to know about the double standards of Adams and Killingsworth.

Allon Lee

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