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Daily Briefing: ICC GETS GREEN LIGHT TO INVESTIGATE ISRAEL (February 22, 2021)

A Green Light for the ICC to Open an Investigation of Israel: Pnina Sharvit Baruch, INSS Insight No. 1436, February 10, 2021

On February 5, 2021, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled in a majority opinion that “Palestine” can be viewed as a state whose territory comprises all of the “occupied territories” – the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip – thereby confirming the jurisdiction of the Court to open an investigation of Israel for alleged war crimes committed in these territories. The decision was made in response to a request by the Court’s Prosecutor, who in December 2019 announced her intention to open an investigation into the situation in “Palestine,” and asked the Court to clarify the scope of the investigation’s territorial jurisdiction. The Prosecutor’s announcement was made at the end of a preliminary examination that began in 2015 following the Palestinian Authority’s referral to the Court.

The judges in the majority, in a brief and superficial decision, ruled that it is sufficient that “Palestine” has the status of a “State Party” to the Rome Statute (the convention that established the Court) for it to be considered a “state” over which the Court has jurisdiction to discuss crimes carried out in its territory. Consequently, in their opinion, there is no need to check whether “Palestine” meets the requirements for the existence of a state according to international law, but rather it is sufficient that they find that its accession of the Court was done properly, after it was recognized as an “observer state” by the UN General Assembly. As for the territory of this state, the judges ruled, in brief, that because the UN decision was based on the right of the Palestinian people for self-determination and independence in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, this is sufficient in order to view all of the said territory as the territory of the Palestinian state for the purpose of the Court’s jurisdiction. The majority opinion adopted the position of the Prosecutor, whereby the Oslo Accords and the limitations they stipulate on the criminal jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, which does not extend beyond Areas A and B and does not apply to Israelis, are not relevant to determining the jurisdiction of the Court. The judges in the majority emphasized that their rulings on the issue of the status of “Palestine” as a state and regarding the territory of the state apply only to the need to determine the Court’s jurisdiction, and do not presume to influence its status as a state in other contexts or to prejudge its future borders.

The ICC’s Decision to Investigate Israel Is Baseless but Dangerous: Prof. Eytan Gilboa, BESA, Feb. 9, 2021

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. 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.

Moreover, the ICC was founded in 2002 to investigate serious crimes against humanity and war crimes, such as genocide, committed by countries that are not investigating war crimes of their own citizens. Israel is a vibrant democracy with an independent judiciary that investigates violations of the laws of war. The Israeli-Palestinian case does not meet any of these conditions. The decision to allow the investigation and prosecution of Israelis is thus a flagrant violation of the ICC’s own rules and procedures.

The ICC is a political kangaroo court. It ignores the most serious war crimes and atrocities in the world today, such as the genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Syria by the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran. It disregards Russian war crimes in Chechnya and the Crimea and those of the Houthis and the Saudis in Yemen.

The ICC’s European puppet masters: Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom, Feb. 12, 2021

Last Saturday, the justices of the International Criminal Court (ICC) took a major swipe at the Jewish state. They ruled that the ICC prosecutor is permitted to open a formal investigation of Israel for fake war crimes. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the decision referring to it as “pure anti-Semitism.”

Netanyahu added, “This court was founded to prevent atrocities like the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish people, and now it is attacking the Jewish people’s only state.”

Netanyahu is absolutely right. The court’s decision is bigoted at its core. To reach its decision, the judges had to ignore the 1998 Rome Statute on which it is founded. The Rome Statute makes clear that only states or the UN Security Council can petition the court for redress. And having ignored its own legal writ, the judges proceeded to take a knife to the very concept of international law. They applied a standard of behavior to Israel that is applied to no other state in order to single out Israel for legal proceedings that have no basis either in the court’s specific mandate or in the law of nations.

The fact that Hamas – a terrorist group formally committed to the genocide of the Jewish people – published a statement applauding the court’s ruling shows just how prejudicial the court’s decision was. It is worth noting that every missile attack and suicide bombing Hamas terrorists carry out against Israel is a separate war crime under actual international law.

ICC Prosecutor to decide Cyprus file before exit: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2021

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she would make a decision regarding the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus before her term ends on June 16. She made the comments on Wednesday while speaking to a virtual conference hosted by the Institute of International and European Affairs.

Amid the ICC debate on whether Israeli settlements should be deemed a war crime is the question of the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus, which has been almost completely ignored. Until now, the timeline regarding an ICC decision about Northern Cyprus has been muddled. The issue is a rare case that deals with alleged forced population transfer as a war crime (as opposed to “classic” war crimes such as genocide), and the ICC’s decision could have far-reaching implications in how it could treat Israeli settlements.

The Palestinians asked for ICC intervention in January 2015, Bensouda declared Israeli settlements war crimes in December 2019, and the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber gave a green light for a full criminal war crimes probe on February 5.
In contrast, the first complaint by a Cypriot official, represented by Shurat Hadin, against Turkey’s settlements in Northern Cyprus was filed in July 2014 – half a year earlier than the claims against Israel. It is unclear why Bensouda moved forward sooner on the Israeli-Palestinian situation than on Northern Cyprus, but until her statement on Wednesday, it was unclear if she would address the situation at all.

For Further Reference:

Netanyahu: ICC proved once again that it is a political bodyElad Benari, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 5, 2021 — Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday denounced the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruling that it has jurisdiction over Palestinian Authority-assigned territories, paving the way for a probe of alleged Israeli “war crimes” in these areas.

NGO Monitor’s International Advisory Board Statement on ICC’s Jurisdiction Claim:  NGO Monitor, Feb. 2021 — As members of the NGO Monitor International Advisory Board, we strongly condemn the exploitation of the principles of international law seen in the International Criminal Court’s claim to have jurisdiction over issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a prelude to investigations targeting individual Israelis, this is a form of legal warfare, (“lawfare”) that uniquely targets the Jewish state.

U.S. has ‘serious concerns’ about International Criminal Court decision on Israel war crimes probe:  Henry Austin and Adela Suliman, NBC News, Feb. 5, 2021 — The United States has “serious concerns” about an International Criminal Court ruling which paves the way for a prosecutor to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories, a State Department spokesman said late Friday.

EU: No Kosovo accession to the EU if it opens an embassy in Jerusalem:  Guest contributor, EUReporter, Feb. 4, 2021 — Already last September, the EU warned Serbia against moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem following a high-profile summit with former President Donald Trump at the White House where Serbian President Aleksander Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti signed statements agreeing measures to improve economic relations – and in Serbia’s case pledging to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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