(JNS) Harsh criticism is being directed toward the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague after it ruled on Friday that the court has jurisdiction to open a war-crimes investigation against Israel.
“The decision from the ICC is hardly surprising,” said NGO Monitor legal adviser Anne Herzberg. “The ICC prosecutor has been gunning for Israel for several years and has been working closely with European-funded terror-linked NGOs to craft bogus indictments against Israeli officials. The fact that Palestine is not a state, that the Oslo accords expressly prevent the court from asserting jurisdiction, and that the prosecutor made up a fake rule to go after the Jewish state, were ignored. And the judges have repeatedly flouted the ICC’s own procedures to try and manufacture a case against Israel.”
A three-judge panel at the ICC decided that Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem are within its jurisdiction, as “Palestine [is] a State party to the ICC Rome Statute.” The ICC’s 2-1 decision cleared the way for Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open a war-crimes probe into IDF actions.
NGO Monitor, together with three other groups, jointly filed an amicus brief with the ICC that lays out the legal and factual flaws behind the argument that the ICC has jurisdiction.
Based on NGO Monitor reports, Herzberg further asserted that Bensouda colluded with terror-linked NGOs and accepted legal submissions from anti-Israel, pro-BDS organizations. “NGO Monitor has found that many of these radical groups benefit from European governmental financial support,” said Herzberg. “In other words, anti-Israel animus and political machinations are more important to the court than preserving its credibility. European donors of the terror-tied NGOs and the court share responsibility for this legal travesty.”
Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, who currently serves as chairman of the World Likud, also had harsh words for Bensouda.
“If anyone should take the stand, it should be ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda,” said Danon, adding that the ICC has “once again chosen to demonize and persecute Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”
Danon further stated that “this hypocritical and antisemitic ruling” by Bensouda “focuses on Israel while ignoring countries who carry out horrific human rights abuses every single day. This lack of accountability is a misuse of the ICC’s power and position, a perversion of justice, and much worse, enables the real and sickening exploitation to continue. The decision has broadcast the ICC’s true colors to the international community.”
‘Distortion of international law’
Professor Eugene Kontorovich, director of International Law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, agreed that the ICC has no jurisdiction in this case.
“The ICC’s acceptance of jurisdiction to investigate a non-member state on behalf of a member that is not a state, and its conclusion about jurisdiction are lawless and entirely results-oriented,” he said. “The ICC has treated Israel by a standard it has applied to no other nation. It makes a mockery of the Oslo Accords and shows Israel that it gains nothing from concessions, while the Palestinians face no consequences from unilateral action.”
Kontorovich noted that the Biden State Department recently asked that neither side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict take action to change the status quo at this time. “Now the P.A. [Palestinian Authority] is seeking to establish borders via the ICC, rather than negotiations. One wonders how Washington will react to this,” said Kontorovich.
Representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also rejected the claim that the ICC has jurisdiction in the case, charging that the court was “politically and ideologically motivated” since the court’s own founding statutes “limit its involvements to disputes between sovereign states only.”
In a statement signed by its executive team, the Jewish umbrella group called the ruling a “distortion of international law” and said that the court’s ruling “undermines its own legitimacy as an unbiased judicial forum.”
The group said they appreciated the concern shown by the U.S. State Department, which also challenged the court’s jurisdiction in this matter.
They noted a statement issued by the Biden administration which expressed the view that the P.A. is “not qualified to obtain membership as a state, or participate as a state in international organizations, entities or conferences, including the ICC.”
Main Photo: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at the Munich Security Conference on Feb.14, 2016. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Security Conference.