PMW: Abbas misled ICC with false document

Israel argues that the Oslo Accords prevent the PA from seeking criminal war crimes jurisdiction outside of Israel’s judicial system.

PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas reacts to the Mideast peace plan Wednesday in Ramallah – ‘A thousand no’s’.  (photo credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS)
PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas reacts to the Mideast peace plan Wednesday in Ramallah – ‘A thousand no’s’.
(photo credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas intentionally misled the International Criminal Court by deleting a potentially incriminating section of a document which the PA recently submitted, Palestinian Media Watch said on Wednesday.
The ICC Pre-trial Chamber had requested the PA to present its position about whether the mid-1990s Oslo peace accords still apply in connection with deciding whether Palestine is a state and whether there is a basis to open a full criminal war crimes probe against Israel.
Israel argues that the Oslo Accords prevent the PA from seeking criminal war crimes jurisdiction outside of Israel’s judicial system.
Earlier in June, the PA presented its position on the issue to the ICC, including attaching what was allegedly a translation to English of the key speech which Abbas made in Arabic on May 19 on the issue of whether the Oslo Accords are still in effect.
But according to the PMW, Abbas deleted a key portion of his speech from the translation sent to the ICC which could have been incriminating.
In 2019, the ICC Prosecution issued multiple statements and legal briefs, with one of the statements saying it was investigating whether the PA’s “pay for slay” program was a war crime for supporting the killing of civilians.
Under “pay for slay,” the PA has for decades paid money to terrorists and their families when the terrorists die during a terror attack or get sent to prison.
PMW said, “There are two versions of Abbas’s speech - The actual speech he made and the version the PA claims in its submission to be the speech delivered by Abbas ‘Translated from Arabic’ specifically for ‘clarification purposes in the context of SOMETHING MISSING HERE!
The speech attached by the PA for the ICC was not a full and accurate transcript of the speech itself given on May 19, said PMW.

CRUCIALLY, PMW said that the portion of Abbas's speech that was deleted from what the PA filed to the ICC was “his commitment to continue paying cash rewards to Palestinian terrorists, including mass murderers and to the families of dead terrorists… which the ICC Prosecutor has already written may be a crime against humanity.”
PMW said that “The PA’s version of the speech submitted to the ICC contained only the below limited reference to the ‘Martyrs’ and ‘heroic prisoners,’ cleansed of any explicit reference to pay for slay," specifically, in point number eight: 
“We pledge to our honored martyrs, our brave prisoners and our heroic wounded to remain faithful to our oath until victory, freedom, independence and return are achieved...”
In contrast, in his full speech, the watchdog group said that Abbas also said the following words:
“Currently, [the Israelis] have asked the banks not to pay the prisoners. We will pay the prisoners, and let [the Israelis] just try to stop us" – literally, “against the will of their father.”
In fact, PMW said the PA thought that this deleted part was so important that they turned it into a short video clip that was rebroadcast on official PA TV:
Abbas: “We vow to our honorable Martyrs and heroic prisoners – [The Israelis] have asked the banks not to pay the prisoners, [but] we will pay the prisoners, no matter what they [the Israelis] want.”
PMW said that “Since the PA has an inherent interest in not submitting a confession that Abbas and his PA are committing crimes in breach of the Rome Statute, it is clear why the PA submitted the incorrect version of the speech to the ICC.”

BESIDES THAT alleged falsification, a PMW report analyzes a range of other changes to the Abbas speech.
PMW said that Abbas’s speech and a variety of actions by the PA and his lieutenants have sent formal, legal contradictory messages regarding whether the Oslo Accords still apply.
The report posits that the PA is trying to retain the potential benefits of canceling Oslo – being freer to bring criminal complaints against Israel and reduce undesirable cooperation – while maintaining the benefits: keeping Israel's help to stop a Hamas coup and trying to appear diplomatically moderate.
On the subject of Abbas’s cancelling all agreements, the PA told the ICC:
“Substantively, the Statement declares that if Israel proceeds with annexation, a material breach of the agreements between the two sides, then it will have annulled any remnants of the Oslo Accords and all other agreements concluded between them.”
In other words, according to the PA’s submission, Abbas’s declaration to end the agreements is conditional on Israel proceeding “with annexation.”
This statement is clearly different, noted PMW, from what Abbas actually said – not only in his written speech but also in his broadcast speech:
“The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones.” 
PMW acknowledged that one political speech by itself might not bind the PA into having taken a formal legal position regarding Oslo.
In contrast, the group argued that following the declaration, the PA also took action.
According to PMW, the day after Abbas’s declaration, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh held an “emergency cabinet meeting” to discuss the decision. The press release from Shtayyeh’s office following the meeting said that he:
“...confirmed the Palestinian government's full support to the decision announced yesterday by H.E. President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership that we are absolved of all signed agreements and understandings with the Israeli and American sides. The Prime Minister stressed that we would work on translating this decision on the ground.”
Shtayyeh made similar remarks in the PA cabinet meeting the following week.
“Today, the Cabinet will finalize plans related to the leadership’s decision, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, that Palestine is absolved of all agreements with Israel.”
Next, the PMW said that PA Head of Civil Affairs Hussein Al-Sheikh announced that the PA was refusing to accept tax income transfers from Israel as provided for by Oslo.
PMW said that, “The PA double-speak and submission of a falsified document to the ICC should result in the court rejecting all the different arguments put forward by the PA, simply because it is impossible to rely on any of their statements.”