ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. (AP/Peter Dejong) (AP/Peter Dejong)
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

Israel rejects the threats and claims put forward by the International Criminal Court in a seemingly one-sided investigation of the IDF for alleged war crimes.

Hamas prepares to launch rockets on Israel. (Photo: Abed Khatib/Flash90)

Hamas prepares to launch rockets on Israel. (Photo: Abed Khatib/Flash90)

Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), warned Israel Tuesday that if it does not provide reliable information for her preliminary probe into alleged war crimes during Operation Protective Edge, she may be forced to decide whether or not to launch a full-scale investigation based solely on Palestinian allegations. However, Jerusalem has rejected these threats, maintaining its position that the non-existing state of “Palestine” cannot legally join the ICC or submit suits to its courts.

“Israel’s position, like the one held by other countries, including the US and Canada, is that the Palestinians are not eligible to join the ICC and that the ICC has no jurisdiction in this case,” a senior official in Jerusalem is quoted by Israel’s Israel Hayom as saying.

The official explained that the prosecutor’s office erred when it accepted the Palestinians’ complaints. “We hope that the ICC will not enable the exploitation of its resources to probe a legally baseless inquiry that is driven by cynical political motives, and which advancement would harm the court’s credibility and a chance for future discourse between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said.

He also expressed surprise that Bensouda, who is obligated to the courts’ rules as well as to the highest standards of professionalism, caution, independence and lack of bias, has chosen to relate to these issues in the media while threatening to launch a full-scale investigation based solely on one side’s story. “This does not add credibility to the processes run in the prosecutor’s office” he said. ”Israel is a democracy on the frontlines of the global battle against terror, doing so while respecting the law,” he emphasized.

Legal Expert: Ignore the ICC

An Israeli legal authority said he would recommend that Jerusalem completely ignore the ICC’s procedure. Speaking to Israel’s NRG news site, Professor Avi Bell of Bar Ilan University’s Faculty of Law said that he would respond through diplomatic rather than legal channels to convey the message that the ICC has no jurisdiction in this case. “The prosecutor really has no evidence against Israel and would be forced to close the case herself, no matter what she thinks,” he stated.

He referred to a precedent in which the prosecutor was forced to close a case because of lack of evidence. War crimes were actually committed in Sudan, but a lack of evidence and cooperation caused the case to be shut down. “The prosecutor did not present indictments because she did not want to risk a humiliation and a loss in court,” said Bell.

The Palestinians and anti-Israel organizations are expected to submit evidence to the prosecutor’s office, but Bell says they do not meet even the minimal legal requirements. “Therefore, we must not cooperate, and this is what I would recommend to the government. The moment you submit materials you enable the prosecutor to find in it what she wants and interpret the reality in the way she wants. And I would not necessarily trust the integrity of an international body that has its own agenda.”

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel  

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