Palestinians Take US to Int’l Court over Jerusalem Embassy

PM Netanyahu addresses ceremony marking opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem. Illustrative.
Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon / GPO

The Palestinians’ political battle with the United States has officially gone past rhetoric to legal action: Last week, the Palestinians brought charges to the International Criminal Court of Justice (ICC) that the US Embassy in Jerusalem is a violation of the Vienna Convention, the primary treaty between world nations. A press release from the ICC on their website summarizing the Palestinian claim argued that the Vienna Convention only allows for a diplomatic mission to be “established on the territory of the receiving State” and is therefore “a breach” of the treaty due to Jerusalem’s “special status.”

The Palestinians ask that the Court order the US to move the embassy from Israel’s capital city, despite the fact that neither Israel nor the US have accepted the Court’s jurisdiction.  Not mentioned in the Palestinian claim is that multiple diplomatic missions are located in territory claimed by the Palestinians, despite that territory still being under dispute and no official state of Palestine being established by international law. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly argued that the embassy in Jerusalem recognizes the “obvious” reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

In addition to Israel’s historical ties to Jerusalem and the facts on the ground, the overwhelming majority of the widely accepted peace plans for Israel and the Palestinians would keep part of Jerusalem under Israeli control.

The legal maneuver is the latest anti-US move taken by the Palestinians. Previously, Palestinians leaders have publicly slammed the United States and rejected the American peace plan before even seeing it.

The Israelis have had an opposite approach to the Americans. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raved about US support last Friday in comments to US Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley, which were published by his office.

“I think for many people, the story of Israel is a parable,” said Netanyahu. “It’s a courageous democracy, that is fighting against forces that threaten our civilization, our freedom, our values and a lot of people see through it but in the UN somebody has to say it and you’ve been saying it so I want to thank you.”

Netanyahu told Haley that the United Nations “still permeates with the stench of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic resolutions, which are the same. And I want to thank you for clearing the air out of that hall.” He listed US support of Israel in dealing with multiple UN agencies that have engaged or tried to engage in anti-Israel actions, as well as UN resolutions condemning Hamas.

For their part, the US Mission to the UN Twitter feed summarized the good feelings between their office and Netanyahu in a post on Friday. “We always enjoy meeting with Prime Minister @netanyahu to discuss how we continue to fight the anti-Israel bias at the @UN and the danger that Iran and its terrorist proxies cause—not only in the Middle East, but across the globe.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, September 30, 2018)

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