Photo Credit: UN Photo
Headquarters of the International Criminal Court at The Hague

Several European countries, the US, Canada, Brazil, and Uganda have voiced their opposition to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) probe against Israel, arguing that the court does not have jurisdiction to rule over the Israeli-Arab conflict and the alleged war crimes at the center of the case.

At least six of the states, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Brazil, and Uganda, have filed petitions to become amici curiae, or “friends of the court,” to The Hague-based ICC. As friends of the court, the states would be permitted to offer their views on the case and submit legal advice to the court.

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Australia has also submitted an amicus curiae request, albeit not yet releasing its position. Australia has been a firm ally of Israel in the United Nations and is expected to speak out in favor of Israel.

An Australian Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told J-Wire in January that the country “is concerned” by the ICC’s move.

“Australia’s position is clear – we do not recognise a so-called ‘State of Palestine’ and we do not recognise that there is such a State Party to the ICC’s Rome Statute,” the spokesperson said.

The six amici curiae will argue that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over the case.

Under ICC rules, only sovereign states can delegate criminal jurisdiction over their territory and citizens to the court. Should the court share the view that Palestine does not constitute a formal state under international law, the ICC would not be able to hear the case.

Gambian lawyer and chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda alleges that “war crimes have been committed or are being committed in the West Bank, especially in East Jerusalem, and in the Gaza Strip,” by both the Israeli military, Hamas and other armed Palestinian organizations.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz on Friday stated on Twitter that Israel “views favorably the fact that important countries, renowned experts and civil society organizations express a clear position that the International Criminal Court does not have the authority to discuss the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” further calling the decision to challenge the court a “responsible position that aligns with international law and prevents the court’s politicization.”

Bensouda has requested three ICC judges rule whether the ICC has the necessary jurisdiction over the case.

Palestine has been a member of the ICC since 2015, while Israel is not a member and has decided to disregard the probe.

Similarly, The International Legal Forum, UK Lawyers for Israel, B’nai B’rith UK, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jerusalem Initiative. as well as the Lawfare Project, Palestinian Media Watch and NGO Monitor and The Hague Initiative for International Co-operation, the European Council for Law and Justice, the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, the Israel Bar Association, Shurat HaDin, as well as various international law experts have all filed petitions to become amici curiae.

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