‘Where do Palestinians go for accountability?’ AP asks a dozen times as State Department flounders

US State Department spokesman Ned Price (Jacquelyn Martin - AFP)

Philip Weiss

Mondoweiss  /  March 5, 2021

US policy denying Palestinians any avenue of redress against Israeli violations is a public joke, as Matt Lee grills State Spox Ned Price, “Where do they go?”

The International Criminal Court’s decision to investigate war crimes in Palestine continues to stir things up. Israel and its lobby are incensed by the move, and yesterday Vice President Kamala Harris had a call with her friend Benjamin Netanyahu and the two agreed on their opposition to ICC jurisdiction “over Israeli personnel.”

The jurisdiction issue was central to State Department spokesperson Ned Price’s rejection of the ICC case when asked on Wednesday. “The Palestinians do not qualify as a sovereign state.”

But Matt Lee of Associated Press (AP) wouldn’t let the question go, demanding 12 times, Where do they go. And all the State Department spokesperson could do is talk about the two state solution and the Jewish state. This is heroic. Transcript:

Lee: Considering your position on the Palestinians now, so where – where do the – where should the Palestinians go to get accountability for what they claim to be problems? To Israeli courts? Where do they go?

Spokesperson Ned Price: Matt, look, we – of course the United States is always going to stand up for human rights. We’re always going to stand up —

Lee: Where do they go? Where do they go?

Price: Matt, that is why I think you have —

Lee: Where?

Price: That is why you have heard us continue to endorse and —

Lee: Ned– where?

Price: — to call for a two-state solution to this long-running conflict. A two-state solution —

Lee: Should they go to the Israeli courts? Where do they go?

Price: — because it protects Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state, but also because it will give the Palestinians —

Lee: Where do they go?

Price: — a viable state of their own and fulfill —

Lee: Where do they go?

Price: — their legitimate aspirations for dignity and self-determination.

Lee: Where do they go? Where do they go? Where do they go?

The Institute for Middle East Understanding summed up the exchange: “State Dept Spox refuses to answer where else Palestinians should turn for justice.”

The IMEU takes up the “Where do they go?” question:

If the list of things the US deems unacceptable includes Palestinian armed resistance, non-violent protest like BDS, conditioning aid to Israel, and seeking out a third party to investigate Israeli war crimes, then how are Palestinians supposed to resist their oppression?

Yes it’s a joke, and a public joke. Yousef Munayyer echoes the point.

Does this standard exist anywhere else in US policy? The idea that there can be no avenues for human rights violations accountability for a people outside an all-encompassing political solution to settle all claims which may never happen? I don’t think so.

There is now critical mass on the left in American politics, and support for ICC has resonated from the squad to Bernie Sanders. Rep. Rashida Tlaib:

No one is above the law. The @IntlCrimCourt has the authority and duty to independently & impartially investigate and deliver justice to victims of human rights violations and war crimes in Palestine and Israel. The U.S. should not interfere with its ability to do so.

Matt Duss of Sanders’s staff retweeted Rashida Tlaib’s tweet.

Munayyer lands on Secretary of State Blinken’s denunciation of the probe:

When you enable war crimes AND systemically oppose any accountability for them you are complicit in them. This is embarrassing and incoherent stuff unbecoming of a secretary of state.

While human rights lawyer Sari Bashi notes the credibility issue for the ICC. This is just the fourth of 14 ICC investigations not of African countries.

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-2006