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February 7, 2021 5:35 pm

American Jewish Groups Slam ICC Decision on Israel as ‘Systemic Bias’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

The International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

American Jewish organizations spoke out strongly against the International Criminal Court’s ruling that it has jurisdiction to investigate war crimes in Gaza and the West Bank, calling the ruling “politically and ideologically motivated” and the result of “systemic bias in multilateral organizations.”

The decision, released Friday, would place both Israel and the ruling Gaza terror group Hamas under possible investigation should the court choose to pursue one. In particular, Israeli officials are worried about war crimes charges related to Israel’s 2014 defensive war against Hamas.

Chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff, and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations released a statement saying they “reject” the court’s ruling, calling it a “politically and ideologically motivated attempt by the ICC to impose itself into matters that are well beyond its mandate.”

In doing so, they said, the court “violates its purpose, distorts international law, and undermines its own legitimacy as an unbiased judicial forum.”

The statement accused ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of “demonstrated anti-Israel bias” and asserted that “Palestinian leaders are attempting to dictate a political end through judicial means and thereby avoid negotiations.”

“These actions serve to exacerbate existing tensions, and will not achieve progress toward a viable and lasting resolution to a conflict that can only be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties,” the statement said.

The American Jewish Committee said in a statement that it “deeply regrets” the ICC’s decision. The Palestinian Authority, it said, “is not a state” and as such “the ICC is an inappropriate forum to adjudicate its claims.”

The AJC lamented that formal submissions by Australia, Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, and Uganda asserting that “Palestine” is not a state were “not given due weight” by the court.

“It is only by reaching a negotiated settlement with Israel that the Palestinian people can fulfill their legitimate national aspirations,” the AJC stated. “Reverting to the old ways of confrontation, such as promoting one-sided UN resolutions or seeking the indictment of Israelis in the ICC, will only prolong the conflict and the suffering of both peoples.”

Citing criticism of the ruling by the US State Department, the Anti-Defamation League said, “We are deeply concerned by the problematic ruling from the @IntlCrimCourt as it has the very real possibility of leading to abuse against Israel with implications for the wider international community. We welcome the @StateDept’s ‘serious concern.’”

B’nai Brith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin said “we reject” the ruling, and added, “We see again that Israel is subject to systemic bias in multilateral organizations.”

They also expressed anger that “the ICC puts Hamas and Israel on the same playing field, even though Israel’s actions were defensive in the face of Hamas attacks.”

The World Jewish Congress said it was “dismayed” by the ruling, “which sets a dangerous precedent and does nothing to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called the ruling, “Another wholly political decision by International Criminal Court targeting #Israel.”

The SWC claimed the international community, including the ICC, holds Israel to a double standard, saying, “Here’s how it works. When it comes to Covid, #Israel is occupying power allegedly responsible for vaccines for Palestinians. When it comes to attacking Israel, Palestinian territories = independent entity. Making up new rules as long as Israel demonized.”

“Instead of serving justice #ICC politicizes and corrupts it,” the group asserted. “#Israel haters call Israel an occupying power when it comes to Covid vaccinations and #Palestine a state when they can demonize Israel!”

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