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01/05/2020

Conviction of Israel begins in the International Criminal Court

Conviction of Israel begins in the International Criminal Court

The Palestinian people have long been attempting to reveal the true face of Israel in international assemblies, and recently, it seems they may have finally succeeded in doing so. The International Criminal Court will soon file a suit to investigate Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is a great victory for those who have been censored by Israel and its supporters, particularly the United States, for numerous years.

 

WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) began its activity in 2002, and has international jurisdiction investigating crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Israel and the US have been highly critical of the ICC from the start, and neither are members of the institution.

One negative aspect of the ICC relates to its limited jurisdiction. According to the law, national courts of countries are given priority to pursue the crimes, while the ICC only has jurisdiction over crimes when national courts are unable or unwilling to investigate.

 

However, the ICC is free to pursue the crimes of anyone older than 18, and no individual, official or even diplomat is immune to an investigation.

 

WHAT DOES THE CURRENT CASE AGAINST ISRAEL RELATE TO?

Since 2015, the Palestinians have used their membership in the ICC to defend their rights against the crimes of Israel, substantiating their claims by sending evidentiary documents to the organization. ICC attorney Fatou Bensouda announced that the documents had provided sufficient evidence to pursue a suit against Israel. Underscoring that Israel persists in committing crimes against humanity in Jordan’s river West Bank, Bensouda pinpointed that he would start the process of investigation in the coming months.

Israel’s alleged war crimes are as follows:

  • Attacking the participants of the Great March of Return in the years of 2018 and 2019, killing 183 people.

  • The Semitic formation of Jerusalem.

  • Widespread detention of Palestinian children.

  • Besieging the Gaza Strip since 2007 to this day. The Gaza Strip has a population of two million.

  • Mass confiscation of Palestinian land.

 

HOW HAVE ISRAEL AND PALESTINE RESPONDED?

Israel refuses to cooperate with the ICC in the litigation, as it could result in the detention of Israel’s prime minister, heads of security services or army commanders.

Israel has deemed the investigation to be outside the jurisdiction of the ICC and claims to have legal grounds for refusal. In accordance with the law, the ICC only holds jurisdiction when investigating crimes committed in one of the member states, otherwise, it requires approval of the United Nations Security Council.

 

Israel is not a member of ICC, therefore, it questions the ICC’s jurisdiction. However, the Israeli authorities are choosing to ignore the fact that the alleged war crimes took place in Palestinian territory, and Palestine is an ICC member.

The ICC holds jurisdiction in investigating the crimes of citizens of all of its member states or those of non-member states which take place within a member state.

 

THE STANCE OF OTHER NATIONS

The United States predictably supports Israel’s refusal to cooperate. Mike Pompeo, pointing to non-membership of Israel in ICC, agreed that the organization has no right to build a case against Israel.

 

Some European nations also have poor relations with the ICC, despite being members. Italy, France and Germany have strong disagreements with the organization after it condemned them for the deaths of thousands of African migrants who had intended to migrate to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

Iran and Turkey, however, hailed the ICC’s decision, as did the Arab League.

 

DISREGARDING ISRAELI CRIMES

According to reports, collaborations between Mossad agents and European security services have led to numerous potential terrorist attacks on Europe being thwarted… but the question is somewhat more complicated. Mossad has to respond to questions about how it receives information about terrorist groups beyond Israeli borders.

Here are the possible alternatives:

  • Mossad is justified in its actions because it is working to save lives. This is the response that Israeli officials underline, but it is very difficult to believe due to Israel’s record of crimes against humanity.

  • Mossad operates beyond Israeli borders and territories of European nations, but is it possible that Mossad operates in Europe without telling European security services? It certainly should not be allowed to, which implies close cooperation of Mossad with security services of various European nations.

  • Such cooperation happens in circumstances where Europeans remain pessimistic toward Israel and consider it a security threat because of its repressive policies in places such as the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

  • The EU is therefore rather ambivalent or undecided when it comes to the ICC’s investigation. Naturally, the emphasis the ICC puts on Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity does influence European policy toward Israel, and hurts the nation’s image internationally.

 

THE FUTURE OF THE ICC

The United States has formally adopted a position opposing the ICC, and even refuses to grant visas to its members. Anti-Israel ICC measures could culminate in intensified confrontation between ICC and America. However, the situation of three major countries of EU (Italy, Germany and France) is slightly different than that of the US. These countries are actual members of the ICC, despite their troubled relationship with the organization. A condemnation of Israel by the ICC could nonetheless further intensify the bad blood between the organization and these European countries.

Lastly, if the ICC does condemn Israel, member states would be required to detain condemned senior officials from Israel should they entire into their territory. Considering Israel’s heavy influence among ICC members, this could push countries to withdrawal from the international institution, leading to a severe weakening of the ICC.

 

 

 
Mani Mehrabi
Senior international affairs analyst, Faculty member at the Think tank of International Relations (Tehran, Iran)

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