The Court Trial of Bibi Netanyahu

By Juan Cole

Dark Satire: Irony alert

Prosecutor: “Justices of the International Criminal Court, I shall demonstrate to you that this man (points at detained Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu in orange jump suit and manacles at accused table) is guilty of serious breaches of international law and not just of war crimes but of a pattern of systematic war crimes over time. As you know, such a pattern amounts to crimes against humanity. He is also guilty of the crime of Apartheid, which is itself a crime against humanity according to the United Nations.”

Lead Justice leans over his elevated desk. “Proceed, counselor.”

Prosecutor: “The first charge is the systematic and prolonged violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of populations in times of war and in militarily occupied territories. According to article 49,

“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Justices of the ICC, I maintain to you that Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 and that it is an occupied territory under the definition of the law. I maintain to you that Israel illegally annexed part of the West Bank to its artificial “district of Jerusalem,” itself a violation of the United Nations charter that forbids acquisition of territory by military conquest, and to which Israel is signatory. Thereafter, Israel flooded 300,000 Israelis from its own civilian population into this district, surrounding Arab East Jerusalem and isolating it from the Palestinian population of the West Bank.

I further maintain to you that Israel has settled over 400,000 Israelis from its own population in what is left of the West Bank. This is a total of 700,000 or more persons from Israeli proper settled in Occupied Palestine. Mr. Netanyahu has accelerated this squatting, and sees it increasing by 50% over the next few years. Worse, these settlers are often armed and commit violence against the native Palestinians, with the connivance of Mr. Netanyahu.”

Justice looks at Netanyahu: “How do you plead to the charge?”

Netanyahu: “Judea and Samaria are an inalienable part of Israel and not occupied territories.”

Justice: “Mr. Netanyahu, you are to plead guilty or not guilty. The status of the West Bank as an occupied territory is not in question here; it is universally recognized as such in international law.”

Netanyahu: “The terrorists will not be allowed to pose an existential threat to the state of Israel.”

Justice: “Guilty or not guilty to the charge of violating article 49, Mr. Netanyahu. Terrorism charges may be brought against Hamas leaders if you like, but they are not pertinent to your violation of article 49. As you should have learned in kindergarten, two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Defense attorney for Netanyahu whispers in his ear, then turns to Justices. “Your honors, my client pleads not guilty by virtue of Iran’s nuclear bomb.”

Justice: “Iran does not have a nuclear bomb; and if it did it would be irrelevant to the charge against you. If you insist on these histrionics, Mr. Netanyahu, I will have you gagged.”

Prosecutor: “Your honors, the West Bank, home to 2.6 million Palestinians, has become an Apartheid situation under Israeli rule. Mr. Netanyahu has denied the Palestinians the right to a nationality, and says he will forever do so. He has built large numbers of apartment complexes for illegal Israeli squatters on Palestinian land, from which all Palestinians are excluded. This pattern of systematic residential discrimination is typical of Apartheid. He has built highways that Palestinians may not drive on. He has established checkpoints that limit Palestinian mobility in the Palestinian West Bank. He has instituted a pass system identical to that of old Apartheid South Africa. He has had wells dug into aquifers for illegal Israeli squatters, lowering their level and causing Palestinian wells to run dry, in hopes of chasing Palestinians out of the West Bank. This situation meets most of the elements in the Rome Statute’s definition of Apartheid, II, C:

“Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognised trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association…”

The Palestinian West Bank under Israeli military occupation is the very face of Apartheid, your honors.”

Justice to Netanyahu: “How do you plead to the crime against humanity of Apartheid?”

Netanyahu: “Israeli security can only be guaranteed if we control the borders with Jordan.”

Justice slaps forehead. “Clerk, enter a plea of “not guilty” for Mr. Netanyahu. And schedule him for jail time for contempt of court until he apologizes for wasting our time with propaganda.”

Netanyahu defense attorney: “Your honors, we request dismissal of all these charges.”

Justice: “On what grounds, counselor?”

Counselor: “International law is clearly anti-Semitic.”

Justice (to clerk): “Clerk, please schedule defense counsel for jail time for contempt of court, as well.”

Netanyahu: “Nazi!”

Justice (to clerk): “Double the jail time for contempt of court.”

Prosecutor: “Your honors, the current Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, which Israel occupied in 1967 and which it continues to surround and blockade today, has involved numerous strikes on medical facilities, including an old people’s home and health care clinic and a medical center for the disabled. At the disabled center, two challenged persons were killed and more were wounded.

“This is a direct violation of Article 18, ‘Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.’ ”

Justice to Netanyahu: “How do you plead?”

Netanyahu: “It is very unfortunate that Hamas hides its rockets in hospitals.”

Justice: “Do you have any proof of that allegation?”

Netanyahu: “All Arabs are terrorists, so obviously the handicapped ones are, as well.”

Justice: “I give up. Bailiff, gag him!”

Justice (to Prosecutor): “Do you have more charges, counselor?”

Prosecutor: “Yes, your honor. About 1,000 more.”

Justices sigh.

Netanyahu stands and gives long muffled speech that cannot be understood because of the gag.


Related video:

Euronews: “Netanyahu says Gaza campaign may take ‘a long time'”

23 Responses

  1. “International Criminal Court”! Does a joke about a joke is still funny?
    An Israeli, an American and a Palestinian happen to expire at the same time and arrive at the gate of hell for the same reasons. The attendants offer them a last call home to set their affairs straight. The American gives his number and it is $254.63 for him, which he pays, the Israeli gives his number and its $43.50 for him which the American also also pays. When the Palestinians give his number and it’s only a quarter, the other two protest why do they have to pay more? The horned one explains. Well his call is local.

  2. The legal route really worries them and quite rightly. Inherent in it is the fact that much international law is embedded in EU and other nation’s laws. Here is an interesting summary I came across the other day. Specifically paragraph 9 and on.

    link to

  3. Excellent! I do appreciate your summarizing the Netanyahu replies as one-liners which get to the essence of what his response would have been. (And yes, we all know the standard responses, which trolls keep spewing out on every comment board and Israeli officials elaborate upon…)

    In actuality, of course, there would be literally hours of hasbara, irrelevant and inaccurate historical alusions, zionist propaganda, anti-(Muslim)-semitism, legalistic word-chopping, etc.

  4. Excellent article Professor Cole, Article 49.paragraph 6 is the most blatant charge, the International Court of Justice in its opinion in 2004 has said all the settlements in OPT are illegal under International Law, they arrived at that conclusion by 15 votes to o. The present Israeli aggression also amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity and collective punishment with the deliberate bombing of water and sewerage facilities. link to

  5. As vile as the histories of Netanyahu and his predecessors are they come up short on crimes against humanity when compared with Uncle Sam. Four hundred years of slavery, ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, banana republics south of the border, on through Iraq sanctions and wars, with no end in sight.

    • Respectfully, the US has paid and continues to pay for those crimes. All oppression of peoples always returns in some form on the head of the oppressor.

      • …the US has paid and continues to pay for those crimes.

        The US has paid to some extent in the form of blowback, but I submit the punishment has been lighter than the crimes might call for – something like the slaps on banksters wrists for their crimes.

        An estimated half million children in Iraq died as a consequence of US-crafted and -maintained sanctions and the administrators at the highest levels are admired by many people, especially Washington’s and korporate Amerika’s elite – and raking in lots of loot.

        • Let’s review. By ignoring the wisdom of Native Americans, settlers missed out on incalculable knowledge about how to live here, leading to innumerable miscalculations and blunders. Slavery? That led directly to racial strife of all forms and types of violence-lying in the street, dying of automatic arms fire is only a slap on the wrist if it’s not you. We are currently playing for our role in de-stabilizing Iraq, especially those with PTSD and serious head wounds. What has this to do with Israel, anyway? Comparing tragedies, especially of the moral variety, strikes me as an unwholesome and worthless parlor game. I guess it’s hip to spell corporate and Amerika with a “k”, but, so what?

        • @Chester C: Using “k” in “korporate Amerika” is a way of expressing dissent similar to flying a flag upside down. I’m in good company when I do it.

  6. How I wish this was true. However, is it possible Professor. Cole that Palestine may sue Israel like Nicaragua did to the US? I know Palestine has an observer status, can they use the ICJ?

  7. We laugh as we cry. So it’s come to this – notions of justice, fairness, and equity are shuffled off into the category of irony and “dark satire” – it is all we apparently have left. Next up, The Trial at the ICC of George W. Bush, to be followed by that of Dick Cheney, John Yoo, Paul Wolfowitz, and a host of politicos and pundits who believe so much in family values that they pushed how many Iraqi women into prostitution in Syria based on . . . their paranoid fever dreams, false intelligence, and deception deception and still more deception. Man that is JACKED UP!

    In this world the Romans, the Nazis, Blackwater and their appropriately blackhearts such as Erik Prince – they win. They may eventually collapse and be defeated, but they are Chaos demons, and the very power we give them and the attendant damage they inflict is the point. Their victory is total – just ask the children of Palestine. As Juvenal observed, the satirist does not create – he observes, scribbles, and the satire writes itself.

  8. Identify all the crimes against humanity committed by Israel and in many, if not most, cases you will find America complicit even, as in the case of the USS Liberty, when the victims were Americans and the crime was covered up by Americans at the highest level who sold the victims down the Mediterranean.

    • So-called “American” duplicity has oftentimes been the result of Israeli influence in American politics. Numerous officials in the Bush administration had dual citizenship. Your attempt to generalize everything into a cloud of misdeeds, that vanishes into thin air as you approach it, is inappropriate to the unfolding tragedy in Gaza.

  9. Why doesn’t someone or a group kidnap Netanyahu and bring him to a country that would legally recognize his crimes against humanity and that would arrest, jail, try and sentence Netanyahu to life in prison or death?

    • there are 2 problems with this scenario which should give us pause (outside of problems of balance of power).

      In driving the political spectrum to the right and off the cliff, the main legacy of the old Likud guard is that they now find themselves trying to keep a lid on a next generation of politicians who not only outflank them to the right but whose belief systems seem to have decoupled from reality altogether (ironically the very charge Bibi used to level against ayatollahs and Hamas).

      Second, remember how it rallied public opinion in Israel when those Turkish and international hippie-Islamist-pirates brutally assaulted Israeli commandos on the high seas before running back-of-the-head first into bullets at point blank range? Then think of what a reverse Eichmann trial would do (and for that matter, remember how isolated Hannah Arendt became just for trying to understand the mindset of the oppressor).

      Let’s dream of a truth and reconciliation commission instead?

      • “Let’s dream………….”, Let’s continue the intellectual blabbing and do nothing while innocent Palestinians and billions of others around the world are killed and controlled by the insane billionaires ruling the world for their profit and power.

        Why can’t the US government legally recognize Netanyahu’s crimes against humanity? Because it’s as guilty with its illegal wars, torture, corrupt corporations, phony Federal Reserve, etc.

        Justice, honesty and wisdom have basically disappeared from America and the world. Power, money and fear rule.

        Technology is killing humanity with its uncontrollable hunger for more profit and power.

    • Tzipi Livni had an arrest warrant out for her in the UK – as did Menachem Begin at one point.

      The Israeli government has advised cabinet ministers with security backgrounds or senior IDF generals to exercise caution when traveling to certain European countries due to the possibility of exercising universal jurisdiction over “war crimes” allegedly committed in Israel.

  10. Question: what is the Palestinian government’s record on human rights? Does Hamas adhere to “international norms”?

  11. Add this to Bibi’s rap sheet:

    “Israel’s war crimes in Gaza: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu knows he has Official Washington so deeply in his pocket that he can get away with almost anything including the stealing of Palestinian land and the slaughtering of civilians in Gaza. Whatever his war crimes, Netanyahu will be excused, as Marjorie Cohn notes.” – link to

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