image Photo: Flash90, Reuters

Israel: ICC has no authority

Jerusalem will not cooperate with an inquiry into alleged war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Dismissing the ICC’s self-proclaimed jurisdiction over Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu branded the tribunal’s unwarranted intervention as a blatant political ploy that is legally baseless and contrary to the goals for which the court was initially founded.

Netanyahu made that declaration after meeting with senior ministers and government officials ahead of today’s deadline to respond to an ICC notification letter.

“It will be made clear that Israel is a country with rule of law that knows how to investigate itself,” and “completely rejects” the assertion that it committed any war crimes, underscored the Prime Minister.

Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, and therefore by definition not a party to the court.

The ICC probe pertains to alleged war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during a 2014 conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist Hamas terror organization, known in Israel as Operation Protective Shield.

Both Israel and the Palestinians have been named as possible perpetrators, and ICC prosecutors say they sent all concerned parties’ letters on 9 March that allotted a one-month deadline to appeal for a deferral of the inquiry so to allow for their own investigations.

The ICC inquiry was declared at the initiative of the Palestinians, who immediately affirmed “Full cooperation with the ICC will continue from the State of Palestine, as a member state of the court, to achieve justice for the victims of the Palestinian people and hold Israel accountable for its crimes,” said senior Palestinian Foreign Ministry official Omar Awadallah.

During an address to the Knesset commemorating Israel’s annual observance of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Day, Netanyahu slammed the ICC inquiry an “absurdity.”

“The Hague court’s founding was inspired by the Nuremberg tribunal, which tried Nazi war criminals after World War Two,” he said, adding in apparent reference to Hamas, “But a body set up to defend human rights became a body that, effectively, protects those who trample on human rights.”