NEWS

Former World Leaders Take Stand against ICC Investigation of Israel

February 23, 2021

by: Ariel Kahana~Israel Hayom via JNS  

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The judges of the ICC and eminent guests at the opening of the ICC judicial year.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021 | A group of former heads of state and high-ranking ministers on Friday sent a letter to newly-appointed International Criminal Court [ICC] prosecutor Karim Khan, warning him against launching a war crimes investigation against Israel. Such an investigation, the letter states, would politicize the court and thus harm its standing.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, was initiated by the Friends of Israel Initiative. Signatories include former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper; former Australian Prime Minister John Howard; former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar; former Uruguay President Luis Alberto Lacalle; and former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

The former leaders explain that they decided to appeal to Khan out of a sense of concern regarding the “unprecedented campaign of delegitimization against Israel waged by the enemies of the Jewish state and supported by numerous international institutions.”

In the letter, the former leaders explain at length that as Israel is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, from which the court derives its authority, and is not a member of the ICC, the court has neither reason nor justification to try Israeli citizens. “This view is strongly supported by the government of the United States of America, as well as the governments of Rome Statute state-parties Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Uganda and leading international law scholars,” it states.

The letter points out that the ICC has a mandate to investigate the “gravest crimes” as a court of last resort when national jurisdictions cannot or will not do so—a situation that does not apply to Israel, which it notes has a “long-established and internationally respected legal system with a track record of investigating such crimes.”

An ICC Pre-Trial Chamber ruled on February 5 that the court had jurisdiction over the Gaza Strip, eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, due to “Palestine” being a state party to the Rome Statute. The court based its opinion on United Nations General Assembly Resolution 67/19, which “[reaffirmed] the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State of Palestine on the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.”

The ruling drew heavy criticism, with the US State Department issuing a formal statement of objection and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling the decision “pure anti-Semitism.” Germany and Hungary also objected to the ruling, while Jewish organizations called it a “distortion of international law.”

Khan is due to take over from current ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in approximately two months.

Posted on February 23, 2021

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Israel Hayom via JNS on February 22, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: ICC-CPI/jns.org