Photo Credit: Stephan Röhl, Flash90
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Minister Yuval Steinitz

Minister Yuval Steinitz, Coordinator of the Interministerial Task Force for the International Criminal Court, on Friday condemned the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda’s decision that the Palestinian Authority can be considered an independent state and therefore the court has jurisdiction to conduct an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in Judea and Samaria.

According to Bensouda, the ICC’s legal jurisdiction is borne by the Oslo Accords, which chart a path to a future Palestinian State. Thank you, Mr. Rabin, thank you Mr. Peres.

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“As someone who has closely followed developments at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, I am forced to conclude that the Prosecutor’s latest position continues to espouse her typical anti-Israel stance, as influenced by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the global BDS movement,” Minister Steinitz stated.

“The Prosecutor’s disregard for the opinions of some of the world’s leading experts on international law points to her determination to harm the State of Israel and tarnish its name. In the name of this objective she has reformulated the rules of international law, inventing a Palestinian state while the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has yet to be concluded,” he added.

“Israel will continue to be proud of the fact that it is the only liberal democracy in the entire Middle East – and to vigorously reject baseless attempts to tarnish its name and harm its soldiers and civilians,” the minister concluded.

In February, Germany, the world’s second-biggest donor to the International Criminal Court, submitted a friend of the court) opinion, arguing that the ICC could not launch a formal investigation since “Palestine” does not meet the definition of a state under the Rome Statute. Accordingly, Germany never officially recognized Palestine’s accession to the court.

Since 2012, “Palestine” has joined many international bodies and conventions since, after the United Nations had awarded it a “non-member observer state” position. And so, armed with that recognition, on April 1, 2015, “Palestine” became a party to the Rome Statute and the 123rd member of the ICC.

The ICC judges will now mull over Bensouda’s legal opinion, alongside several friend of the court briefs filed by a number of organizations. The judges are expected to rule on the matter over the coming four months, but they are not obligated to respond at all.

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