By Niklas Jakobsson
A press release from the ICC prosecutor saying she will open a preliminary examination into the situation of the Palestinian Territories rocked social media on Friday. Random tweeters hailed Fatou Bensouda’s decision as the beginning of the end for impunity, saying justice would finally be served and Israel held accountable.
There are several things that were commonly misinterpreted when it comes to Bensouda’s statement. A preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court is not the same as an official investigation. It looks at all parties in the conflict and there’s a long way to go from a preliminary to a full investigation.
The message from international justice commentators after the announcement by the office of the prosecutor was almost unanimous: this is not as big a deal as it might seem. They clearly highlight that this type of investigation is standard procedure whenever a country files an Article 12(3) declaration with the court.
Arguably he ICC is notorious for its slow-turning cogs and complicated processes. That’s possibly why some people were more stunned by how quickly the announcement was made than the actual announcement itself.
Despite repeated calls for patience, articles and opinion pieces started appearing analysing what might come next and possible difficulties of the examination. Alex Whiting was quick to highlight one of the main issues that the prosecutor will face when carrying out her preliminary examination.
“At the end of the day therefore, she will essentially rely during this phase on publicly-available information as well as material voluntarily provided by interested States and organizations.”
Speculation on the future relationship between involved (and non-involved) parties also arose soon after Bensouda’s announcement. William Both and Ruth Eglash speculate on a possibly frostier relationship between Palestine and Israel.
“No one — not the Americans, Israelis or Palestinians — can predict with any certainty what will happen next, though they warn that the already crumbling relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is likely to get worse.”
Speculation is all we can expect over the next few months as Fatou Bensouda takes her time with arguably her most high-profile examination to date. Whether the prosecutor of the ICC opens an official investigation or not, the one thing we can be certain of is that no matter the decision there will be another flurry of opinions and thoughts on social media.
- Are you surprised at the speed with which the prosecutor opened a preliminary examination?
- Do you think this will lead to a full investigation?
- How do you think this will affect the relationship between Israel and Palestine?
Lead image: Sergeii Fedko is a cartoonist who works for Cartoon Movement
The Weekly Hubble features the most popular or controversial international justice story of the past week and reactions on social media to the news.