ICC says it can’t investigate alleged Israeli war crimes (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By RAPHAEL AHREN 04/03/12)
TIMES OF ISRAEL
TIMES OF ISRAEL Articles-Index-Top
Criminal court in The Hague rejects Palestinian request, since
Palestine is not a full UN member state
The International Criminal Court on Tuesday rejected a Palestinian
petition to prosecute Israel for alleged violations in the West Bank
and Gaza because Palestine is not a full member state of the United
While pro-Israel advocates hailed the decision as a victory in the
arena of “lawfare,” the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem greeted it with
a lukewarm response.
A few days after Operation Cast Lead, in early 2009, Palestinian
Justice Minister Ali Khashan wrote to the International Criminal Cour
asking it to investigate Israel’s conduct in the West Bank and Gaza.
In his letter, he officially recognized the jurisdiction of the
ICC “for the purpose of identifying, prosecuting, and judging the
authors and accomplices of acts committed on the territory of
Palestine since 1 July, 2002.”
Founded in 2002, the Hague-based ICC seeks to “help end impunity for
the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the
international community,” according to its website. The ICC
prosecutor’s office launched an preliminary probe to determine
whether to proceed with an investigation, allowing, among other
things, the Arab League’s ”Independent Fact Finding Committee on
Gaza” to address the court.
But according to the 1998 Rome Statute, which governs the ICC, the
court can only become active when either the United Nations Security
Council or a state provide jurisdiction. The question the ICC had to
grapple with was whether to consider Palestine a state.
And while the ICC prosecutor’s office noted “that Palestine has been
recognised as a State in bilateral relations by more than 130
governments and by certain international organisations, including
United Nation bodies,” the organization concluded that because
Palestine’s current status is that of “observer” and not a “non‐
member state,” it had presently no jurisdiction to launch an
investigation into acts committed in Palestine.
“Israel made it clear in the first place that the ICC has no
jurisdiction in this matter,” the Foreign Ministry responded Tuesday
in a dryly worded statement. “In Israel, the issue has, for an
extensive period of time already, been addressed by inter-ministerial
teams, headed by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Justice,
with the participation of other bodies.”
Israel “welcomes” the decision on the lack of ICC jurisdiction, but
has “reservations regarding some of the legal pronouncements and
assumptions in the Prosecutor’s statement,” the statement added.
Some pro-Israel activists, on the other hand, enthusiastically
celebrated the decision: “Throughout this process, the ICC — created
to punish the worst perpetrators of war crimes and mass murder — was
exploited by several EU- and European-government funded non-
governmental organizations (NGOs), which intensively lobbied the OTP
as part of their campaign to attack the legitimacy of the State of
Israel,” Anne Herzberg, legal advisor for NGO Monitor, said in a
statement released Tuesday.
“The fact that the case even proceeded this far was clear legal
overreaching, but it shows the strength of NGOs that lead the de-
legitimization and demonization campaigns against Israel,” said
Herzberg, who submitted a 40-page legal brief to the ICC.
The court’s decision “is a strong rebuke to these NGOs, their
political agenda, and their campaign to isolate Israel from the
international community,” she added. “International arenas are
routinely hijacked for political purposes, but today’s decision was
markedly different.” (© 2012 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 04/03/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY