It has been announced today by the ICC that, following Palestine’s application and accession to the Rome Treaty, it will conduct a ‘preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine’.  This will look at ‘alleged crimes’ in the OPT including in East Jerusalem since June 2014.  I have little doubt that the Israeli propaganda machine will rumble into action calling into question the credentials and impartiality of the ICC and its investigators. My advice would be to wait, but I doubt they will listen.

This is a preliminary examination. It will try to establish whether a full investigation is within its jurisdiction, whether it is possible and whether there is evidence to support any allegations. As in any criminal investigation, evidence that an offence may have been committed doesn’t mean that it has.

Let me make it clear that I have no doubt that Israel is and has been in breach of its international obligations and that members of the Israeli military and political and religious leaders have been guilty of crimes against humanity. Why bother to write again?

Jews are facing increased anti-Semitism in Europe, Israel is slowly losing support in USA. It seems that the end-game may be in sight and many of us, friends of both Palestine and Israel, are worried. Zionism seems intent on drawing all the world’s Jews into Israel, and to displace the Palestinians in the process. But two-thirds of world Jewry don’t seem to be attracted to a return to the ghetto, which is what that might turn out to be. Many of us, I’d like to think all, who advocate for the rights of Palestinians do not want to see that achieved at the cost of another Jewish bloodbath. The West has enough guilt on its shoulders without adding to our burden.

What’s the answer? It’s easier to say what isn’t. Increasing the pressure on Palestinians, attempting to play off various groups against each other (as with e.g. Hamas, Fatah, and more recently with anti Syrian jihadists) simply plays into the interests of those for whom war is an economic necessity. Should we press for more talks? Pointless, because those in a position to act aren’t listening.

What is needed is a mass civic movement to match the desire for peace of the majority in the region. Palestinians have been offering peace for over 25 years and all they have ‘earned’ is condemnation and loss of land. But the non-violent resistance remains strong and it has allies in the Israeli peace movement. The Churches of Palestine, together with Muslim friends and civic society, all call for a peace based on justice. Is there someone with the stature of Mandela, of Tutu, who can stand up and challenge the injustice without leading to violence. Is there someone within Israel’s leadership with the foresight and courage of de Klerk who can recognise the signs of the times and act before it is too late.

It is leadership we need, and I do mean ‘we’. The events in France and Belgium are not isolated incidents. The West is held in contempt by many in the ‘East’ and with good reason. There are quite a few of us in the ‘West’ who  regard our policies and leadership with contempt even whilst trying not to demonize the persons. So, my reason for writing is – a call to prayer.

Pray that our God will send us the leaders we need to deliver all of us, and the good world s/he made and loves, from a future of hate and despair.

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