We’re seeing again how Israel can fight so well with weapons but so badly with words.
Take the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, which has turned into an international incident. She was fatally shot during an Israeli anti-terrorist incursion into Jenin. An initial autopsy by Palestinian coroners found that it was “not possible” to tell whether she was killed by Israeli or Palestinian gunfire.
Of course, that didn’t stop Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from treating Israel as a murderous country and vowing that he would take it to the International Criminal Court.
“They committed the crime and we do not trust them,” Abbas said, contradicting his own forensic expert. “We hold the Israeli occupation authorities totally responsible for her killing. This crime cannot go unpunished.”
In addition to this brazen rush to judgment, Abbas declared that the P.A. would not participate in a joint investigation with Israel, which would enable ballistic tests on the fatal bullet and provide conclusive evidence of responsibility.
So, which party can’t be trusted—the party asking for a forensic investigation or the party running away from it?
For Israel, this should be a PR slam dunk: Israel wants to get at the truth, while Abbas wants another chance to malign Israel.
But instead of taking the initiative, Israel has followed its usual timid playbook of playing defense and being extra cautious with its language. Maybe Israel is so used to being attacked in international circles for its aggressive posture against terrorism, it’s trying to overcompensate with its diplomatic posture.
The problem is that this just shows weakness. Israel has a strong case that Abbas must agree to a joint investigation. There’s no need to hedge or dilly dally. If Abbas continues to refuse to seek the truth, Israel should take him to the International Criminal Court.
After all, the Oslo accords require the P.A. to disband all terrorist groups, seize their weapons and outlaw them. Abbas has done none of that, which has forced Israel to intervene. Even The New York Times admitted that terrorists roam free in P.A. cities, reporting in 2014 that although Jenin is under the “full control” of the P.A., “the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps.”
By failing to honor his obligations under Oslo, Abbas has put the lives of his own people in jeopardy, including journalists. Maybe that’s why he’s so aggressive with his accusations against Israel—it distracts from his own failures.
It’s time for Israel to turn the tables and take Abbas to the ICC. If any party deserves a trial, it should be the party that is afraid of the truth.
David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp and the “Jewish Journal.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published by the Jewish Journal.