International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (AP/Robin van Lonkhuijsen) (AP/Robin van Lonkhuijsen)
Fatou Bensouda

“The unacceptable interference of the court lacks any legal basis and contravenes the goals for which it was established,” Israel says.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has no authority to launch a war crimes investigation against the Jewish state, Israel has announced.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced in March she was launching an investigation against Israel for alleged crimes committed in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in recent days held discussions on the issue of Israeli policy regarding the announcement.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Minister Yuval Steinitz, Minister Yoav Galant, Minister Michael Biton, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, National Security Council (NSC) head Meir Ben-Shabbat, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and other senior officials all participated in the discussions.

It was decided to adopt the recommendations of the inter-ministerial team led by the NSC, which recommended not cooperating with the international court but also not leaving the prosecutor’s letter unanswered. Israel will respond and make it clear that the court is acting without authority.

“It will also be made clear that Israel is a nation of laws that knows how to investigate itself,” Netanyahu’s office stated after the discussions.

In the response letter sent to the ICC, it will also be pointed out that Israel “absolutely rejects the claim that it has carried out war crimes.”

“Israel reiterates its unequivocal position according to which the court in The Hague lacks the authority to open an investigation against it,” the letter will note.

This position was also made clear to the court by other countries and noted experts in international law.

“The unacceptable interference of the court lacks any legal basis and contravenes the goals for which it was established. The State of Israel is committed to the rule of law and will continue to investigate any accusation against it regardless of the source and expects that the court will refrain from violating its sovereign authority,” the statement said.

Netanyahu said that “at a time when IDF soldiers are fighting with supreme morality against terrorists who perpetrate new war crimes every other day, it is Israel that the court in The Hague has decided to condemn. There is no other word to describe this other than hypocrisy.”

“A body that was founded to defend human rights has become a hostile body that defends those who trample human rights,” he added.

Mandelbleit restated his position that the ICC lacks any jurisdiction on this matter since no sovereign Palestinian state exists nor does any territory belonging to such an entity.

Israel has not joined the ICC.

Anne Herzberg, Legal Advisor at NGO Monitor, who authored the organizations; amicus brief to the ICC, and has been involved in the ICC’s Israel-related dealings as far back as the initial efforts in 2008, stated that Bensouda’s decision was “expected,” and her claim that she and her office have consistently engaged in a “principled, non-partisan approach” is “utterly laughable.”

“From the very beginning of her tenure she encouraged the Palestinians to join the Court, has repeatedly relied upon claims from and engaged with Palestinian terror-linked NGOs, and invented out of whole cloth an attenuated legal theory to go after Israelis. And there are many other indications of bias,” she charged.

“It is unclear if the new Prosecutor will be able to undo the considerable damage she has done to the institution’s credibility,” she noted.

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