Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2014. (photo from UN photo/Amanda Voisard)
The Israeli government has launched a public diplomacy campaign to discredit the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court’s recent decision to start an inquiry into what the Palestinians call Israeli “war crimes” in the disputed territories.
According to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the inquiry – which was initiated after a request by the Palestinian Authority – is not a formal investigation, but rather “a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation pursuant to the criteria established by the [ICC’s] Rome Statute.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently signed the Rome Statute in order to join the ICC after failing to get a UN Security Council resolution passed that called for Israel’s withdrawal from the disputed territories by 2017.
Israel’s campaign against the ICC inquiry will focus on the fact that the because the charges were filed by the PA, which is not a state, the court has no authority to act. In addition, the campaign will point out the court’s bias against Israel – a country on the frontline of the war against terrorism that makes sure to abide by international law by way of an independent legal system.
The Israeli government decided to launch the public diplomacy campaign at an emergency meeting in response to the ICC decision that was convened by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The meeting, which took place at Netanyahu’s office, was attended by Israeli security, legal and diplomatic officials.
The ICC’s decision to launch the inquiry into Israeli actions is “the height of hypocrisy and the opposite of justice,” Netanyahu said on Sunday at the start of this week’s cabinet meeting, two days after the court announced the inquiry.
“During my years of public service, both as UN ambassador and as prime minister, I encountered these kinds of events, but this decision by the [ICC] prosecutor is in a league of its own,” Netanyahu said. “It gives international legitimacy to international terrorism.”
The prime minister said Israel would fight the ICC’s decision with every means it has available, including the enlistment of its allies. Along those lines, Israel is lobbying member states of the ICC to cut funding for the tribunal, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday. Israel, which like the United States does not belong to the ICC, hopes to dent funding for the court that is drawn from its 122 member states in accordance with the size of member states’ economies, said Lieberman.
“We will demand of our friends in Canada, in Australia and in Germany simply to stop funding it,” Lieberman told Israel Radio.
Read more at jns.org.