Israel given one month to pursue deferral of international investigation into alleged war crimes

Israel has thirty days to seek deferral of a formal war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The court confirmed Thursday that it sent notices to both Israel and the Palestinian leaders granting both parties the possibility of a postponement of an ICC investigation, if they can prove they are carrying out their own inquiries.

Early in March, the ICC announced the intent to investigate alleged war crimes by Israelis and Palestinians, following a request by the Palestinians. Israel, a member of the United Nations, is not a member of the ICC, while the Palestinians joined the court in 2015 after being granted nonmember observation status by the UN.

The pending ICC investigation focuses on the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip in 2014, the treatment of rioters along the border with Gaza, and Israel’s various settlements in biblical Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as the West Bank.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has conducted a five-year long preliminary probe into the allegations. She has concluded there is “a reasonable basis to believe” that both parties in the conflict committed crimes.

Neither Israel nor the Palestinian leaders have made any public comments specifically about the court’s notices or how they plan to respond. However, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin is working to garner support from Israel’s friends in Europe.

“Every attempt to twist Israel’s hands through international bodies by cynical or political exploitation of international law is doomed to failure,” Rivlin said from Paris on Thursday.

So far, no word on when the ICC plans to bring charges against Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Syria or China for their massive human rights violations. Don’t hold your breathe!