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January 22, 2015 11:08 am

Israel Launches Campaign to Discredit International Criminal Court Inquiry

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Taglit-Birthright Israel 15th anniversary event on Wednesday in Jerusalem. Photo: Orly Eyal-Levy.

JNS.orgThe Israeli government has launched a public diplomacy campaign to discredit the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) 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 (PA)—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 U.N. 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 global 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 Benjamin 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 Sunday at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting, two days after the court announced the inquiry.

“During my years of public service, both as U.N. 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.

“This body (the ICC) represents no one. It is a political body,” he added.

A loss of funding would exacerbate the ICC’s already serious financing problems. Last week, Reuters reported that the unexpected arrival of an indicted defector from Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda would put prosecutors under severe financial strain.

The overwhelming bulk of the court’s funding comes from advanced economies of Europe and North Asia. Japan is the largest contributor, giving $23.7 million in 2014, followed by Germany, which gave $15.7 million. France, Britain, and Italy are also major contributors to the ICC’s budget, which will rise 7 percent to $164 million in 2015. Canada contributed $6.5 million. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird visited Israel this week, and the Israeli government planned to raise the ICC funding issue with both foreign leaders.

“Israel is adamant that it will have the right to defend itself against all those who wish to propagate terror and other attacks against its citizens, against its territory,” Netanyahu said at the start of a meeting with Abe. “We will not have our hands ties by anyone, including the ICC. We will do what is necessary to defend ourselves wherever we need to do so.”

Despite Israel’s lobbying efforts, even countries that are traditionally close to the Jewish state are unlikely to renege on their treaty commitments to fund the ICC, said Kevin Jon Heller, a professor of law at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

“Germany is probably the least likely country in the world to go against the ICC no matter how supportive of Israel it has traditionally been,” Heller said. “It was one of the very leading states in the creation of the ICC.”

ICC prosecutors said Friday that they would examine “in full independence and impartiality” crimes that may have occurred in the disputed Palestinian territories since June 13, 2014. This allows the court to delve into alleged war crimes during Operation Protective Edge, which took place in July and August, but not into Hamas terrorists’ June 12 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in Gush Etzion. Hamas on Saturday welcomed the ICC inquiry and said it was prepared to provide material for complaints against Israel.

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  • esther noodelman

    Interesting! Disgusting! Canada contributed $6.5 billion to the very anti-Semitic International Criminal Court in 2014 .

  • The logo…

  • Crusty

    Israel had better get on the same page as the rest of the world. The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to recognize Palestine as a state in 2012. They were granted observer _state_ status last year. It’s illogical to base Israel’s defense on it’s status as a state when most of the world disagrees.

    Israel would be far better off developing a legal, ethical defense for its actions. At best, public relations will only make Israel appear morbidly delusional.

    • Retired

      Hey crusty!
      What’s the UN going to do about it.Take off it’s shoes and start banging them on the table?

  • It’s pathetic that the UN is giving the Palestine slime this much respect. Palestinians don’t have their own actual country and are run by terrorists. They should be given no respect by any country or groups (such as the worthless UN).

    • Pouya

      You pathetic uneducated piece of filth. i feel sorry for you, so so brainwashed and so uneducated. your a waste of space

    • Jared

      Of course Palestinians do not have a country now, because the terrorist thugs hijacked and occupying it illegally. maybe you should find out how Israel was created before you talk rubbish in public forum.

    • Lancifer

      Wow, you have been properly brainwashed. Israel is a pariah state now.

  • Julian Clovelley

    There’s more. The immediate impediment to the case of the three murdered teenagers being investigated at ICC level is the failure of Israel to fully ratify the International Criminal Court, despite having originally ratified the Rome Treaty. it is Israel that impedes the investigation this article seems to be calling for

    It is procedurally correct that matters in the iCC are examined one at a time and not as several together brought by opposed parties currently in conflict. That is how Courts work.

    The Israeli and Palestinian Governments have an opportunity to responsibly bring matters of violence before an independent court for investigation. The world will likely conclude that any party resisting such legal process does so out of guilt.

    • Retired

      You are fooling,aren’t you?
      You actually believe that what you hear from this court is what you will get?
      You sir are in lala land,either that or you know perfectly well where this will all go & you are being cute!

      • Gracie

        Th useless nations! Another waste of tax dollars

    • The three youngsters thing was a hoax in order to invade and destroy more of the Palestinian infrastructure.

      • Retired

        You have learned our secret!
        The problem was there was no infrastructure worth destroying!

  • Julian Clovelley

    Try reading the Rome Statute that forms the basis of the ICC. Do that and you might just not make silly statements that begin “According to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda….”

    The prosecutor has merely made a statement of fact – there is no “according to” in this. no matter of personal judgement involved in following procedure very clearly laid down for the ICC. The Prosecutors Statement is about as controversial as saying what the day of the week is – or if it is raining. As in the case of the ICC procedures you only have to look in the right place.

    So at this stage “diplomacy” is simply the “wrong game”. Israel has a right to express a legal opinion on whether an investigation into alleged crimes covered by the Rome Statute is appropriate or has legal and procedural foundation. But that is it. No question of potentially dubious “diplomacy” is involved – It is about Law… If Netanyahu wants to attack the funding of the ICC then he threatens the funding of the State of Israel by the same token.

    With regard to an alleged implied statement made by ICC prosecutors on Friday 23 January 2015 that the preliminary process has been completed I see no reference except in a rather confused article of that date in parts of the Middle Eastern press, which in fact, on closer examination, refers to the January 16 statement referred to above.

    Israel’s time would be better spent ratifying the International Criminal Court and bringing cases before it itself for investigation. The Israeli Rights attacks on the UN, the ICC, the Geneva conventions, and even on charitable bodies, hardly add to Israel’s credibility internationally. I would have thought numerous matters initiated by both Palestine and Israel should be examined in the ICC. Had the ICC existed before the Second World War the treatment of Jews in Europe, especially Germany, might have been subject to internationally recognised investigation as early as 1933. History might even have been very different

    • Retired

      Is that so!
      You are a fool if you believe this!I recall watching film clips from the 1930’s in which the King of Ethiopia,Haile Selassie made a speech to the League of Nations begging for help to stop the Italian invasion of his country.He asked the delegates,”What answer shall I take back to my people”? The League tossed Ethiopia to the not so tender mercies of Mussolini,with the behind the scenes acquiescence of Britain & France.Britain & France,being what they are,saw no problem in stabbing Ethiopia in the back to ingratiate themselves with the Italian dictator.
      They later did the same thing to Czechoslovakia!
      Now all these years later you claim that this Court which is a political entity connected to the UN & the EU elites Will give Israel a fair hearing?
      Clovelley,either you are a damned fool for believing this garbage or you think that I am a damned fool for believing you!