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D+C Vol.42.2015:2 41 amount to war crimes, for instance the killing of children or the devastating destruction in the recent Gaza war. Must Palestinians fear the ICC too? Yes, of course. The ICC Office of the Prosecutor investigates objectively and in all directions. The rockets Hamas fired at residential areas in Israel can count as war crimes too. And for this reason, accepting ICC jurisdiction was controversial among Palestinians. Radical forces opposed the step for obvious reasons. What is driving Abbas? I think that the patience of the Palestinian people and its government with the delaying tactics of the current Israeli government has simply ended. They want to make use of the options international law and multilateral mechanisms offer, and joining the ICC is one of them. The Palestinian Authority has recently also joined other interna- tional agreements and institutions, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Of course, ICC member- ship is particularly important, and that explains the reaction of Israel and Israel’s allies. In strictly legal terms, however, accession to the ICC is nothing more than the sovereign action of a newly founded state that intends to show its ability to take its own decisions. A sovereign state has the right to do so, and nobody can prevent it from acting accordingly. But Netanyahu would like to do that. His stance is most problematic. To sanction Abbas’ action, Israel has withheld taxes that it collected and that it owes the Palestinian Authority. In my eyes, this shows that the Israeli government does not accept the equality that would result from Palestinian statehood. As I just said, no one has the right to interfere in a sovereign state’s decisions regarding multilateral agreements and institutions. If Netanyahu accepted that Palestinians are equal partners in negotiations, as international law requires, he would know that. Moreover, I find the attempts of Israel’s current government to block the Palestinians from relying on international law in this conflict fundamentally unconvincing. The legal approach is certainly to be preferred over the military options that radical Palestinians favour. Ultimately, Israel too could benefit from the ICC, for instance in regard to war crimes perpetrated by Palestinians. The ICC recently had to discontinue a case against Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kenyan president, who was accused of violent crimes in the context of post-election riots. Observers spoke of a serious set-back for the ICC. Will Palestinian accession boost its reputation again? Well, I would not over-estimate this step, but the Office of the Prosecutor now certainly has a new opportunity to prove that it dares to start investigations against parties that enjoy the support of a super power such as the USA. The Office is facing daunting challenges. It will have to argue its case well – wheth- er it decides to start investigations or declines to do so. It cannot possibly please all sides, and will have to act in a professional, non political and facts- based manner. If it manages things well, however, it’ll raise its profile and thus boost the reputation of the ICC in general. The Office has already announced it is starting a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine “in full independence and impartiality”. Kai Ambos is a professor of international criminal law at Universität Göttingen and a judge at Landgericht Göttingen. [email protected] Letter to the editor Analytical distance D+C/E+Z 2014/12, Focus ­section: “Successful ­countries” Congratulations to the edito­ rial office of D+C/E+Z. Why? To varying extent, the six ­contributions concerning “successful countries” are examples of how supposed “country experts” tend to embellish matters and fail to take any critical approach. It is especially telling that they shy away from relying on organisations such as Human Rights Watch, Inter­ ational Crisis Group or Am­ nesty International and do not quote their publications. The editorial team did a good job adding boxes in order to highlight what needs to be criticised in the countries concerned. I appreciate this approach. It is always important to check diligently what a country expert says. Their penchant is to accept the official dis­ course of those in power or at least allow such rhetoric to obfuscate things. Distance serves a more balanced ­analysis. Prof. Dr. Hans F. Illy, Arnold- Bergstraesser-Institut at Freiburg University Editor’s response: It is reassuring to find our work appreciated. However, I feel our contributors deserve more credit. We explicitly asked them to assess what is going well in the countries they dealt with because general media coverage tends to neglect these things. As we knew from the outset, however, that this kind of assignment could lead to lopsided contributions, we decided to supplement every contribution with a box written by a member of our team to point out what is not going well. (dem) Energy Why it would make sense to boost efficiency Climate talks Positions on common but differentiated responsibility diverge War crimes In Guatemala, indigenous women demand justice Successful countries D12107ISSN0721-2178 DEVELOPMENT AND COOPERATION ENTWICKLUNG UND ZUSAMMENARBEIT International Journal Volume 41 December 2014 2,20 Euro No. 12 2014 No. 122014

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