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Several countries upset by International Criminal Court decision to investigate Israel for war crime

Several governments are lining up against the International Criminal Court’s ruling last week that it has jurisdiction to investigate war crimes by Israelis and Palestinians. It also recognized Palestine as a state. 

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatouh Bensouda, will now decide whether to launch an investigation. If such an investigation went forward and any Israelis or Palestinians were found guilty, they would be subject to arrest if traveling abroad.

The ICC decision in The Hague was widely denounced by Israel, the U.S. and now Germany and Hungary. 

“The court has no jurisdiction because of the absence of the element of Palestinian statehood required by international law,” Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, said on Twitter.

The Palestinians supported the move. Israel and the U.S. are not members of the ICC; the Palestinian Authority joined the court in 2015.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the ICC ruling anti-Semitic.

“The court established to prevent atrocities like the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish people is now targeting the one state of the Jewish people,” he said.

The court could also potentially probe Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank. Netanyahu said the ICC claim “that when Jews live in our homeland, this is a war crime” is outrageous.

“It claims that when democratic Israel defends itself against terrorists who murder our children, rocket our cities, we’re committing another war crime,” Netanyahu said.

In light of the decision, Israel’s Foreign Ministry was believed to have ordered dozens of its embassies worldwide to ask their host countries to hint their opposition to an ICC investigation.

Eytan Gilboa, director of the Center for International Communication and a senior research associate at the BESA Center, called the ICC a “kangaroo court.” 

“The decision of the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC) to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem is baseless but still dangerous, and must be thwarted,” he said. “It is baseless because only sovereign states can file complaints to the Court and Palestine is not a sovereign state. The ICC can investigate only countries that have signed the Rome Statute, which established the Court. Israel, along with the US and 70 other countries, did not join the ICC precisely because they suspected it would be another highly biased and politicized UN body. That is exactly what it turned out to be.”

We might take this court more seriously if they would hold China, Cuba, Iran, Russia and North Korea accountable for human rights violations and the confiscation of land.

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