Jordan shelves IDF 'war crimes' petition

Delegation indefinitely postpones trip to The Hague at request of Royal Court, official says.

abdullah clean shaven 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
abdullah clean shaven 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A Jordanian parliamentary delegation has indefinitely postponed a planned trip to The Hague meant to launch legal proceedings against Israeli leaders for alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, a parliamentary official said on Wednesday. According to a Jordanian official, the trip was suspended at the request of the Royal Court. The delegation was planning to formally ask the International Criminal Court to open an investigation against Israeli officials for "war crimes and genocide in Gaza." "It has been delayed at the current time for procedural reasons... related to submitting the request," the parliament's secretary-general, Faiz a-Shawabke, told The Jerusalem Post. "There are a lot of arrangements and preparations needed in this regard... to submit the correct documents, and submitting documents and more documents according to legal norms," he said. There has been no alternate date set to launch proceedings, he added. "The issue has been delayed at the current time and we don't know what new developments will occur in the future," he said. Shawabke denied that the decision was made due to pressure from the Jordanian government or anyone else. The parliament "is independent and isn't pressured by any party," he said. A Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Post the decision to seek charges against Israeli leaders "was purely a parliament move." According to the Jordan Times, the delegation was scheduled to hand a letter to ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo containing the names of Israeli leaders to be sued. The names were to include Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i and IDF officers. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor has called the plan "legally ludicrous and laughable." Dichter told Israel Radio on Tuesday that "neither Jordan's parliament nor any other legislative body can preach to Israel about war ethics." The public security minister added that Jordan itself had "dark memories" of 'Black September' in 1970, when Jordanian security forces killed thousands of Palestinians. Since the initiative does not appear to be coordinated with the palace or the government, Israel's reactions should be appropriate, cautioned Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. "We shouldn't be making loud public statements, pointing fingers at Jordan's own behavior," he said. "It doesn't do anyone good. It doesn't serve the Jordanian-Israeli relationship, which is a strategic relationship." The monarchy generally keeps foreign policy matters under its purview, but the parliament has a right to discuss such matters, said political science professor Curtis Ryan of North Carolina's Appalachian State University. "The domestic pressure on the kingdom has been tremendous from the Gaza crisis onward to do something," he said. "There are a number of independent and opposition members inside the parliament, and even royalists, who are very conservative and very nationalistic. There has been a tremendous amount of anger." Even before the Gaza war, there were calls in Jordan to revoke its 1994 peace treaty with Israel from those who felt the agreement was unfair and implicated them in the Palestinian suffering, he said. Since King Abdullah has no intention of abrograting the peace treaty, allowing legislators to seek charges against Israeli politicians is a way to let these people release some steam, Ryan said. "It leaves them in a situation in which if they are going to have some level of pluralism and legal opposition, they have to let those voices be heard," he said.