Human Rights Watch: The US Is Blocking Palestinian Statehood, Rights

After the U.S. and Israel delivered a one-sided, unacceptable interim agreement to the Palestinians last week, the PLO and Mahmoud Abbas decided to pursue further accession at the United Nations, building on its attainment of non-member observer status in 2012. In a press release yesterday, Human Rights Watch condemned the United States for opposing Palestinian efforts to adopt international treaties and urged Washington to “stop blocking Palestinian rights.”

On April 1, 2014, the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, signed accession instruments for 15 treaties, including the core treaties on human rights and the laws of war. On April 2, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, testified in front of Congress, that in response to the “new Palestinian actions” that the “solemn commitment” by the US to “stand with Israel,” “extends to our firm opposition to any and all unilateral [Palestinian] actions in the international arena.”

“It is disturbing that the Obama administration, which already has a record of resisting international accountability for Israeli rights abuses, would also oppose steps to adopt treaties requiring Palestinian authorities to uphold human rights,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The US should press both the Palestinians and the Israelis to better abide by international human rights standards.”

Obviously, the U.S. opposes Palestinian efforts to ingratiate itself further into the international community because Israel opposes them. Why does Israel oppose them? Two reasons: (1) it confers greater legitimacy on Palestine as a state, which conflicts with Israel’s plan to prevent that outcome, and (2) if the PLO seeks jurisdiction at the International Criminal Court, Israel may be subject to trial for its daily crimes against Palestinians.


The US appears to oppose Palestine joining human rights treaties in part because it is afraid they will gain greater support for Palestinian statehood outside the framework of negotiations with Israel. According to Power’s testimony to a congressional subcommittee on April 2, the US has “a monthly meeting with the Israelis” to coordinate responses to possible Palestinian actions at the UN, which the US is concerned could upset peace negotiations. Power said that the US had been “fighting on every front” before peace negotiations restarted in 2013 to prevent such Palestinian actions. Discussing US legislation that bars US funding from UN agencies that accept Palestine as a member, Power noted, “The spirit behind the legislation is to deter Palestinian action [at the UN], that is what we do all the time and that is what we will continue to do.”

The US may also fear that the Palestinian moves are only a first step towards joining the International Criminal Court (ICC). But Abbas did not sign the Rome Statute of the ICC, which would allow the court to have jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed in Palestine or by Palestinians. Power, in her remarks, said that the US is “absolutely adamant” that Palestine should not join the ICC because it “really poses a profound threat to Israel” and would be “devastating to the peace process.”

It’s worth thinking about why the PLO didn’t pursue the ICC this time around. It may be because they want to keep that card for leverage in negotiations. But it’s also true that “Israel has threatened unspecified retaliation if [Palestine] seeks the court’s jurisdiction, and the U.S. has reinforced the threat,” according to Bill Van Esveld, a senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The official line from the Obama administration is that it opposes “unilateral actions” that might “upset peace negotiations.” Right, we must preserve the precious peace talks, which have gone on for decades and have served as a stalling tactic while Israel continues to occupy Palestine and steal more land. In reality, Israel opposes a Palestinian state. And the U.S. supports them in this.

11 thoughts on “Human Rights Watch: The US Is Blocking Palestinian Statehood, Rights”

  1. Congress, and the Obama admin., are quite OK with Israeli "unilateral actions" that might "upset the peace process." Netanyahu is threatening such actions now, even as he tries to fix blame for the failure of peace talks on the Palestinians, without a word of censure from Washington.

    This game can't continue much longer. A mountain of lies will always collapse under the weight of basic truths. The truth of the middle east "peace process" is that Israel doesn't really want it, and only US support for Israel allows the charade to continue. But the American people are tired of funding and fighting wars, tired of neocon/neolib policies that impoverish all but the richest few, and tired of paying for Israel's expansionist dreams while millions in the US are jobless, homeless and hungry.

  2. Take the Israeli's to the ICC, charge them for their crimes, each and everyone of them that so easily kill Palestinians with no regard for them as human beings. It's amazing how easily the victims become the aggressors, they learnt well from their Nazi teachers.

  3. The sad part of all this is, that the main stream media try their best to keep this information from the public. And Kerry is a hypocrite known very well that the talks were leading in a dead alley.

  4. First we were told that the ICC was to be opposed(by the Bush Administration) because it might lead to"frivolous or politically motivated lawsuits" against US troops or policy makers(precisely what constituted "frivolous or politically motivated lawsuits" was never made clear despite repeated requests by myself and others to the Wall Street Journal), now the new reason is that it might take cases against the sacred beast of the middle east. Talk about turning a horse chestnut into a cchestnut horse to quote Abe Lincoln!

  5. Israel and the United States are terrified that Abbas will join the International Criminal Court for one reason: Both Israel, and the United States as an accessory, are guilty of crimes against humanity, displacement of the Palestinian people, illegal occupation of lands seized in war and a multitude of daily crimes viciously committed against the Palestinians. Further, once the International Court enters that guilty finding, the United States, should it continue to enable Israel in it's crimes, will find itself condemned and isolated by the international community of nations, as it should be.

  6. There are many gray areas in just about everything. However, there is no gray areas regarding the criminal nature of Israel's handling of their Palestinian population. Also, there are no gray areas in America's enablement of these crimes. Israel is criminal/America is corrupt – this is the whole sum of it. This will be acceptred in the future as unquestioned truth. Of course, all of the guilty parties will deny ever being part of it.

  7. Let’s make one thing clear: these useless military exercises and demonstrations of force do absolutely nothing to alter the reality or Russia’s strategic calculations. They are essentially for domestic consumption, to satisfy political hardliners who are attacking the president for being too weak.

  8. Leta??s make one thing clear: these useless military exercises and demonstrations of force do absolutely nothing to alter the reality or Russiaa??s strategic calculations. They are essentially for domestic consumption, to satisfy political hardliners who are attacking the president for being too weak.

  9. The conclusions on this article are head on. Many young people in Israel want peace with Palestine and are less reluctant to allow the Palestinians to have their own state. Obviously Israel does not want that, but it needs to face reality. The Palestinian state is coming and its people would be fools not to join the ICC. The "Peace Process" is just a stalling tactic. It is a way for Israel to legitimize avoiding Palestine's accession as a state, and the US remains Israel's puppet, though not as much in the 1990s. Now for instance, Obama is recognizing the new coalition government, while Israel does not. If the coalition government recognizes Israel officially, that would be a smart move, as Israel would be isolated. It is not right that Israel expands its settlements continuously. At the same time, it is not right for Hamas to Rocket the settlements. But the peace negotiations have brought 0. Nothing. Niente. Nada. They are pointless. Palestine should join the ICC and all major UN treaties, become a full state legitimized by both Hamas and Fatah and THEN negotiations can begin. With the nuclear option, joining the ICC, Palestine will have a strong card to negotiate, because it can at any time pursue Israel for war crimes. However, when this happens, Hamas will have to lay down their rockets. For real. No suicide bombing, no rocketing. And no more settlement building outside of Israel's borders.

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