BACK in the early 1960s, Mossad, the Israeli spy agency, hunted down Adolf Eichmann, brought him to Israel, tried him for crimes against the Jews under laws that were non-existent at the time the said crimes were committed and eventually executed him.

Not long ago, the International Criminal Court (ICC) gave a judgement that the court has jurisdiction over crimes (read: ‘war crimes’) committed in the occupied territories of Palestine by Israel.

The judgement earned contrasting reaction from Israel and Palestine. The former rejected the decision with sharp criticism, whereas the latter hailed it as the decision could possibly pave the way for trying the ‘involved members’ for charges similar to the ones put forward in the case of Eichmann.

The ICC judgement is being criticised for the reason that Israel is not a signatory to the ICC, and, as such, the court has no jurisdiction over the crimes committed in the occupied territories of Palestine. This is a fair legal position.

Having said that, this is where the theory of justice dealing with moral philosophy comes into play to decide on the legality of trial in the first case and the jurisdiction in the second case.

Judging by the doctrine of ‘legal positionism’, the trial was legitimate in the first case as Israel was mighty enough by that time to assert its authority, whereas the ‘jurisdiction’ in the second case would be legitimate depending thoroughly upon the strength of ICC in implementing its writ.

Muhammad Tayyab
Rawalpindi

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2021

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