Israel and the US condemned the ICC’s hypocritical decision to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes, while no such probe was launched against Hamas, the PA or Syria.
The United States and Israel were livid following the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to investigate Israel for war crimes allegedly committed during Operation Protective Edge, which was announced on Friday. Fatou Bensouda, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, said that her office will conduct its “analysis in full independence and impartiality.”
The ICC moved ahead with the decision following Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas’s request to join the ICC last month as part of his diplomatic war against Israel.
Israel fears that IDF commanders and soldiers as well as Israeli statesmen could be prosecuted at the ICC.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly spoke to Secretary of State John Kerry shortly after the ICC’s announcement, and both voiced harsh condemnation for the ICC’s decision.
‘A Tragic Irony’
“As we have said repeatedly, we do not believe that ‘Palestine’ is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC,” a State Department statement read. “It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC. The place to resolve the differences between the parties is through direct negotiations, not unilateral actions by either side. We will continue to oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive to the cause of peace.”
Israel Rejects ‘Absurd Decision’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Saturday night that Israel rejects the “absurd decision” of the ICC prosecutor. “It’s absurd for the ICC to ignore international law and agreements, under which the Palestinians don’t have a state and can only get one through direct negotiations with Israel. It’s absurd for the ICC to go after Israel, which upholds the highest standards of international law. Our actions are subject to the constant and careful review of Israel’s world-renowned and utterly independent legal system.”
“This decision is even more preposterous given that Israel is legitimately defending itself against Palestinian terrorists who routinely commit multiple war crimes. They deliberately fire thousands of rockets at our civilians, while hiding behind Palestinian civilians whom they use as human shields,” Netanyahu said.
“The ultimate folly of this decision,” he continued, is that “the democracy of Israel, a world leader in fighting terrorism, which is to be hauled to the dock in The Hague, while the terrorist war criminals of Hamas are the ones who are going to be pressing the charges. I won’t be surprised if ISIS, al-Qaida and Hezbollah follow suit. See, Hamas has already announced that they will join their Palestinian partner, President Abbas, in filing complaints against Israel as a result of this decision. So we see here something truly tragic.”
Netanyahu pointed out that the ICC was failing its mission by pursuing Israel, as the court was founded to prevent a repeat of history’s worst crimes, foremost among them the slaughter of six million Jews.
“Now the Palestinians are cynically manipulating the ICC to deny the Jewish state the right to defend itself against the very war crimes and the very terror that the court was established to prevent.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the ICC would be better served if it “investigated Palestinian terrorism and incitement, or the systematic murder of hundreds of thousands of citizens in Arab countries, and not a democratic country that defends itself and has an independent judiciary.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman responded by stating that “this is a disgraceful decision whose sole purpose is to harm Israel’s ability to defend itself against terrorism.”
Liberman pointed out that same court that did nothing after 200,000 people killed in Syria,Libya and elsewhere has seen fit to “examine the most moral army in the world in a decision based entirely on anti-Israeli political motives.”
“Even the seeming even-handedness whereby both sides will be ‘examined’ comes merely to cloak the aim of maligning Israel. It is clearly impossible to place in the same equation the IDF, which does everything to prevent harm to innocent people, and the terror organizations which fire from within civilian population centers in order to harm civilians. We cannot accept this, and I will recommend that Israel not cooperate with this ‘examination,'” Liberman said.
The foreign minister further threatened that Israel will act in the international arena to disband and defund the ICC, “which represents hypocrisy and encourages terrorism.”
Hamas Terrorists Praise ICC Decision
Hamas embraced the ICC’s decision. “This is an important stage, for which the Palestinian people have been waiting for years. We are ready to submit to the court thousands of documents and reports that will prove that Israel committed crimes against Gaza and the Palestinian people,” the terrorist organization announced in a statement.
The PA is reportedly preparing cases against Israeli officials who ordered the destruction of residences in the Gaza Strip as well as other types of cases.
“The day will come when the government and the Israeli army commanders and all 650,000 settlers [residents of Judea and Samaria] will be wanted in various countries around the world and will not be able to travel,” PA Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti told the Al-Hayat daily.
“We will reach a day when the only line open to Israeli leaders is Tel Aviv to Washington, because the United States is the only country that does not apply the decisions of the ICC,” he declared.
A Palestinian official told Times of Israel that alleged land seizures by Israel in Judea and Samaria constituted a clear violation of international law, adding that the law suit at the ICC will be withdrawn if Israel freezes construction in those territories and that the PA had conveyed to Israel an official message to that effect through Jordan and Egypt.
Congress Stands by Israel
In the meantime, the US Congress is reviewing the option of defunding the PA if it manages to join the ICC.
Senator Rand Paul introduced on Wednesday the “Defend Israel by Defunding Palestinian Foreign Aid” Act of 2015. “Certainly groups that threaten Israel cannot be allies of the US. I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure this president and this Congress stop treating Israel’s enemies as American allies,” Rand stated.
Israel warned that if Abbas proceeds with its diplomatic warfare against the Jewish state, Jerusalem will take further steps against the PA, including possibly dismantling the PA, as Minister Yuval Steinitz had suggested.
By: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel
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