Israeli government ministers decided Thursday that the state will not cooperate with a probe being launched by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in response to a complaint against Israel filed with the Court.
The official position of the Jewish State is that the ICC holds no jurisdiction to open the investigation, inasmuch as the Court has jurisdiction solely in the territories of member nations. Israel is not a party to the ICC.
In recent days Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held discussions on the issue of Israeli policy regarding the ICC announcement that it will open an investigation against the State of Israel.
Participants in the discussions included Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Minister Yuval Steinitz, Minister Yoav Galant, Minister Michael Biton, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, National Security Council (NSC) head Meir Ben-Shabbat, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and other senior officials.
Israel’s government resolved to adopt the recommendations of the inter-ministerial team led by the National Security Council, which recommended not cooperating with the ICC and not leaving the prosecutor’s letter unanswered but to respond and make it clear that the Court is acting without authority.
The Israeli response will also make clear that Israel is a nation of laws that knows how to investigate itself.
In the letter responding to the ICC it will also be pointed out that Israel absolutely rejects the claim that it has carried out war crimes, according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.
“The Court in The Hague lacks the authority to open an investigation against Israel,” the PMO said. Israel also contends that the Palestinian Authority, which joined the Rome Statute establishing the ICC, is nevertheless not a sovereign nation and therefore is not a legal member of the Court.
This position was also made clear to the Court by seven ICC member states — Austria, Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Uganda — as well as globally noted experts in international law.
“The unacceptable interference of the Court lacks any legal basis and contravenes the goals for which it was established,” the PMO said.
“The State of Israel is committed to the rule of law and will continue to investigate any accusation against it regardless of the source, and expects that the Court will refrain from violating its sovereign authority,” the PMO said.
“At a time when IDF soldiers are fighting with supreme morality against terrorists who perpetrate new war crimes every other day, it is Israel that the Court in The Hague has decided to condemn,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “There is no other word to describe this other than hypocrisy.
“A body that was founded to defend human rights has become a hostile body that defends those who trample human rights.”
Israel has a policy of not cooperating with the ICC, in accordance with the Court’s own rules which say the ICC lacks jurisdiction over a non-member state.
The Court maintains that its cases involve solely those of member states; it does not intervene in the affairs of nations with judiciaries that are able to investigate and adjudicate cases of crimes against humanity.