Australia has blasted the International Criminal Court (ICC) for launching an investigation against Israel.

Rejecting the decision by the Hague-based tribunal to target the Jewish State over alleged ‘war crimes,’ Australia’s Foreign Ministry questioned the legitimacy of the ICC probe against Israel. “Australia’s position is clear — we do not recognize a so-called ‘State of Palestine’ and we do not recognize that there is such a State Party to the ICC’s Rome Statute,”said the ministry’s spokesperson.

The Times of Israel news website reported the official Australian response:

“Australia is concerned by the ICC prosecutor’s proposal to consider the situation in the Palestinian Territories, subject to a ruling by the court’s pre-trial chamber on the scope of the court’s territorial jurisdiction in the matter,” a spokesperson for Canberra’s Foreign Ministry told Australian-Jewish news site, J-Wire on Tuesday.

“Australia’s position is clear — we do not recognize a so-called ‘State of Palestine’ and we do not recognize that there is such a State Party to the ICC’s Rome Statute,” the spokesperson went on.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz praised Australia for the statement and called on other governments to follow suit.

“Many thanks to the Australian government for taking the unequivocal and principled stance against the ICC prosecutor’s decision,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “I urge other countries to take a similar stance and not allow the court to turn into a political weapon against Israel.”

Without specifying the nature of alleged crimes, the ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced the tribunal’s decision to investigate Israel. She was “satisfied” that “war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.” Bensouda declared in a statement on Friday.

Palestinian terrorist groups, Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), welcomed the ICC investigation targeting Israel.

The PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority signed the Rome Statute four year ago, a treaty which legitimizes authority of the ICC. International and Palestinian activist groups, many of them linked to terrorist groups and funded by the EU and European countries, had been lobbying the ICC to implicate Israel in supposed ‘war crimes.’ The United States and Israel have not signed the treaty and thus do not fall under the jurisdiction of the court.

The U.S. was among the first countries to back Israel over the issue. “We firmly oppose this and any other action that seeks to target Israel unfairly,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Germany, though muted in its response, warned against the “politicization” of the ICC probe. “Basically, it applies to us that we naturally resist the fact that cases of any kind are used to politicize before the court. We are betting that admissibility will be checked and that the court will do it on the basis of the Rome Statute,” a spokesperson for Germany’s Foreign Ministry said.

The Australian statement concurs with the criticism of the probe made by the Israeli government. The ICC “has no authority to adjudicate the matter. It has jurisdiction only in lawsuits presented by sovereign states, but there has never been a Palestinian state,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to the ICC’s announcement.

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett blasted the ICC on Wednesday, calling it a “breeding ground for Antisemitism.” Israel’s Representative to the UN Danny Danon called the campaign led Palestinian agitators at the ICC an act “diplomatic terrorism.”

According to the research done by the watchdog group NGO Monitor, the ICC probe is a result of a concerted effort by groups linked to Palestinian terrorist organizations. Israeli news channel i24News reported the findings of the Jerusalem-based watchdog group:

The ICC decision to pursue a probe into alleged war crimes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip largely resulted from a prolonged and persistent lobbying campaign by terror-lined NGOs, NGO Monitor said on Tuesday.

According to the think tank’s report, a string of non-governmental organisations for years received EU funds for their activities in regards to the International Criminal Court.

Among their ranks are Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as multiple organisations linked with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is designated by the US and the EU as a terrorist group, as well as the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions campaign.

Besides these NGOs, including Addameer, Al-Dameer and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, an Israeli NGO B’Tselem, founded in 1989 to “end Israel’s occupation”, is said to have been part of the lobbying campaign.

In recent years, Palestinian and left-wing groups have increasingly turned to lawfare, a legal campaign to harm and delegitimize Israel. The ICC and its chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda have a history for employing lawfare tactics against the United States. In April, State Department revoked her visa due to her attempts to investigate U.S. troops in Afghanistan over alleged ‘war crimes.’ The U.S. announced its intentions of slapping sanctions on the ICC if the tribunal targeted the U.S. or its allies, including Israel.

One of Israel’s leading legal authorities, Professor Avi Bell of the Bar Ilan University, urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to follow the U.S. example in combating the lawfare waged by some at the ICC. Writing in the Israel Hayom newspaper, he said:

As long as Israel continues to treat the ICC as a legal entity, and as long as it maintains relations with ICC staff under the assumption that their intentions are good, as long as Israel continues to make legal arguments as if anyone in the ICC is listening, it will continue to lose the battle. We must wake up and take more stringent political steps, like the US already has, before the nightmare of indictments against IDF soldiers becomes a reality.

Also writing for the Israel Hayom, the prominent Israeli columnist Caroline Glick noted: “The International Criminal Court is not a legal body. It is a political organization that is exceedingly hostile to Israel. To fight it, Israel needs to ditch its failed legal strategy and adopt and implement an aggressive plan to defeat the ICC on its own political terms.”

Instead of countering ICC’s probe just by legal means, Glick urged the Israeli government to introduce legislation similar to the American Service Members’ Protection Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 2002. This act seeks “to protect United States military personnel and other elected and appointed officials of the United States government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not party.”

The law is popularly known as “the Hague Invasion Act.” It authorizes the U.S. President to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court,” Glick wrote, quoting the congressional act.

The NGO Monitor‘s research shows how terror-linked NGOs, funded by the EU and European governments, are deploying lawfare to tie Israel’s hands in its fight against Palestinian Islamist terror groups. Driven by these activist groups, the ICC has chosen to go after the Jewish State, the only democracy with a free and impartial judiciary in the Middle East. Since the Hague-based tribunal cannot indict the State of Israel, given its judicial limitations, it will most likely go after Israeli military personnel involved in combating terrorism. In the face of this cowardly two-pronged attack, Israel has every right to use all means available to protect these dedicated and courageous men and women in uniform.

PM Netanyahu: ICC has “no jurisdiction” to probe against Israel.

[Cover image via YouTube]

 

 
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