In a press conference recently, Mahmoud Abbas threatened to use Palestine’s G.A.-recognized “state” status to challenge Israel’s settlements in the International Criminal Court. He picked a most unlikely venue for the presser – Ankara, in a joint conference with the the Turkish president. The absurdity of this is that Turkey continues to occupy northern Cyprus, and is responsible for a massive settlement program there.
I’ve written before about “other countries’ settlements,” but one might think that an increasing discussion of Israel’s civilian communities in prosecutorial terms would increase the discusion of other (often more blatant) violations of the same international norm. Not quite.
Cyprus was a state with clear borders when Turkey invaded in 1974, and is a charter member of the ICC. If anyone should be loosing sleep over settlements suits in the ICC, it would be Turkey. Interestingly, no one has suggested in the past decade that Cyprus’s ICC membership would scare the Turks out of N. Cyprus, or get the Turks to agree to a peace deal). But a referral by Cyprus would not face the various thorny temporality and territoriality issues of a Palestinian complaint. Moreover, Cyprus is a particularly gross case of changing the demographics of occupied territory through settlement, with settlers now outnumbering protected persons n the territory.
Apart from the manifest hypocrisy, what should be disappointing for believers in international humanitarian law is the failure of anyone to call Abbas (or Erdogan) on it. I am not aware of any news, NGO, or governmental response pointing out the unseemliness of Abbas invoking the ICC from Ankara.