07 Jan

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Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian permanent observer to the United Nations, addresses the media after submitting documents to the UN. Photograph: Niu Xiaolei/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Palestine to become member of International Criminal Court

Move expected to heighten tensions with Israel by building momentum for recognition of Palestinian state

The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has confirmed that Palestine will officially become a member of the International Criminal Court on 1 April, the UN press office said on Wednesday.

The Palestinians delivered documents to UN headquarters on Friday documents to join the Rome Statute of the ICC and other international treaties, in a move that has heightened tensions with Israel and could lead to cuts in US aid.

The official announcement of the date of the Palestinian accession to the ICC, in the form of a letter from Ban, was posted on a UN website.

Under ICC rules, Palestinian membership would allow the court, based in The Hague, to exercise jurisdiction over war crimes committed by anyone on Palestinian territory, without a referral from the UN Security Council. Israel, like the United States, is not a party to the Rome statute, but its citizens could be tried for actions taken on Palestinian land.

The Palestinian government signed the statute on 31 December, a day after a bid for independence by 2017 failed at the UN security council…………………..


Charlie Hebdo attack: manhunt after 12 killed at Paris offices – live updates


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Charlie Hebdo: Now is the time to uphold freedoms and not give in to fear

A general view shows firefighters, polic

The scene in Paris: ‘Charlie Hebdo was testing the boundaries of taste and religious tolerance.’ Photograph: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

Terrorists can kill and maim, but they cannot topple governments. We must not hand them victory by treating this massacre as an act of war

Why does it happen? Whenever a political outrage is committed, the sensible question is to ask: what does its perpetrator want? What reaction does he seek, and what does he not seek?

Twelve dead cannot go unremarked. Those journalists who confront violent intolerance, even in the supposed security of a city office, need every support. When, very rarely, they die in that cause, they must be lauded and mourned.

Those who comment through satire are peculiarly bold, more so than those who deploy argument. Ridicule is the most devastating and wounding of weapons. It reaches parts of the political and personal psyche that reason cannot touch. It is one of democracy’s most effective weapons, and the price those who wield it have to pay is sometimes as high as any other.

There can be no doubt that the magazine Charlie Hebdo was testing the boundaries of taste and religious tolerance. But that is the burden freedom of speech in a democracy has to bear. The US bore it recently with its satire on North Korea’s leader; it was the risk Charlie Hebdo took, and knew it was taking.

If satire reaches places argument cannot touch, should terrorism now be allowed to do the same? All authorities on terrorism agree, as its student Richard English has written, that the question has “no easy solution”. The reason is that it is a technique of conflict, not a cause. It is merely a weapon, not an ideology.

In murdering so many, we can assume the terrorists sought to achieve two things. They sought to terrify others and thus to deter continued criticism, and they now seek to reduce the French state to a condition of paranoia. They want to goad otherwise liberal people to illiberal actions. To them, western democracy is skin deep in its freedoms, while the simple disciplines of their form of Islam are more powerful, more courageous, more lasting.

For the past quarter-century, the west has misread and misplayed the upsurge in fundamentalist sentiment across the Muslim world. The anti-western thrust was manifest in movements as diverse as Sayyid Qutb’s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Iran’s ayatollahs, Bin Laden’s al-Qaida and, more recently, Isis in Syria and Iraq. But it has almost always been cultural, directed at the states of the Middle East, at keeping them to some concept of religious purity.

Some of these movements sought caliphates and toppled secular regimes, notably those of the Ba’athists. But the insurgencies were mostly contained within the region. The threat to the west was negligible. The threat to western commercial interests was more substantive, but it was likely to be short-lived. Oil would always need to be sold, as has proved to be the case………………………..


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