Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has expressed his country’s opposition to the International Criminal Court’s announcement it will investigate alleged “war crimes” by Israel against the so-called “State of Palestine.”

“The United States is “firmly” opposed to an International Criminal Court probe into alleged Israeli war crimes, Pompeo said Friday. “We firmly oppose this and any other action that seeks to target Israel unfairly.

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“We do not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state, and they therefore are not qualified to obtain full membership, or participate as a state in international organizations, entities, or conferences, including the ICC,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said in a statement issued Saturday night that Friday’s decision by ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open an investigation against Israel constitutes a “dark day for truth and justice.”

Bensouda announced she would investigate the petition charging Israel with war crimes “in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

Prosecutor Bensouda Asking Hague Court to Rule on Indicting Israel for ‘War Crimes’

“The ICC only has jurisdiction over petitions submitted by sovereign states,” Netanyahu pointed out. “But there has never been a Palestinian state. The ICC prosecutor’s decision has turned the International Criminal Court into a political tool to delegitimize the State of Israel. The prosecutor has completely ignored the legal arguments we presented to her.

“She has also completely ignored history and the truth when she says that the very act of Jews living in their ancestral homeland, the land of the Bible, that this a war crime. We will not be silent. We will not bow our heads before this outrage. We will continue to speak out against this travesty of justice,” Netanyahu said.

In its coverage, however, the Saudi Arabia-based news site, “The New Arab” noted that in her statement, Bensouda did not specify the perpetrators of the alleged war crimes.

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine,” ICC prosecutor Bensouda said in her statement. “In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip,” she said, but as the quick-eyed Saudi news outlet noted, she did not specify who committed those crimes. It was a minor point but a pivotal one, easily missed by inattentive politicians.

She also said that before opening a full probe, she would ask the ICC to rule on the territory over which it has jurisdiction, because of the “unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation.”

Hazem Qassem, a spokesperson for Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization praised the ICC announcement in a statement on Saturday.

“The importance of this decision lies in the actual beginning of the procedures of this decision and the start of the penalization of the occupation for all the crimes it committed against Palestinian people,” he told the AFP news agency.

He did not mention the rest of Bensouda’s statement that in addition to the grounds for investigation against Israel, there was a “reasonable basis” that Hamas and terrorist groups committed war crimes by targeting civilians and torturing individuals.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA news agency quoted fantasy-prone A leader Mahmoud Abbas as saying, “We have achieved what we want and from this day on, the ICC machine will start accepting the cases that we have previously presented.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.