According to The Associated Press, the world's largest bloc of Islamic countries has been lobbying the Palestinians to join the International Criminal Court so it can prosecute Israeli politicians and military leaders for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, the bloc's leader said Saturday (September 27).
Iyad Madani said the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly supports Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' plan to ask the UN Security Council to impose a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian lands.
In a wide-ranging interview with AP, Madani also described the Islamic State (IS) extremist group which has captured a wide swath of Syria and Iraq as "criminal" and said he supports its destruction.
The Palestinians, under pressure from the United States and Israel, have been reluctant to become a party to the Rome Treaty that established the ICC.
Abbas had been expected to sign up to the treaty during the recent 50-day Gaza war that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians, and 70 Israelis. Yet, he postponed an announcement, saying the Palestinians want to pursue action in the Security Council first.
"As OIC, we're lobbying Abbas to join the Rome Treaty and open the door as a member of the ICC court to bring up charges against the individual politicians and military people in Israel who are responsible for all those atrocities, the latest of which is Gaza," Madani said.
He said The OIC agrees with Abbas' statement to the UN General Assembly's ministerial meeting on Friday that war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide were committed in Gaza.
COMMENT: Before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gets too excited in his post-war fervor to take the destruction in Gaza to the United Nations, he should be reminded that it was Hamas and not the Palestinian Authority that began firing rockets into Israel.
All Tel Aviv was doing when it was militarily provoked in kind was to protect its citizens.
Madani accused Israel of "dehumanizing" treatment of the Palestinians for decades "and we think there is a strong case to classify this current government of Israel as an apartheid state that should be dealt with internationally as an apartheid state."
The thrust now should be "to bring the Israelis to the peace camp" with the United States, Israel's most important ally, as a "moderator," not a party to the conflict, Madani said.
Madani called for a revival of the stagnant Quartet of Mideast mediators--the US, UN, EU and Russia, although Moscow has chosen to become a non-player in that it chose to attack the Ukraine, a sovereign state.
On the issue of terrorism, Madani said he fully supports US airstrikes in Syria and Iraq targeting IS, but only if they are part of a wider effort to dismantle the group's presence and deal with the causes that created and bred extremism in the region.
IS is an al-Qaeda breakaway group, has exploited the chaos resulting from Syria's civil war to carry out a blitz in which it swallowed up roughly a third of Iraq and Syria. It has brutalized the local population and imposed its strict interpretation of Islamic law in areas under its control.
Madani, however, criticized the US for dismantling state institutions in Iraq after invading it in 2003 and adopting a policy that "emphasized sectarian differences" among Iraqis. He also blamed the international community's failure to face up to the crisis in Syria and put an end to the Palestinian suffering.