(December 22, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday slammed International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for announcing her organization’s intention to conduct a broad investigation of Israel for “war crimes,” calling the announcement “absurd” and accusing the ICC of having become a weapon in the hands of Israel’s enemies.
“While we are moving forward in new areas of hope and peace with our Arab neighbors, the ICC in The Hague has taken a step backwards,” said Netanyahu at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “On Friday, it finally became a weapon in the political war against the State of Israel.”
Bensouda’s decision, said Netanyahu, was “absurd on three counts.”
“The first absurdity is that the prosecutor’s decision completely contradicts the founding principle of the court itself,” said Netanyahu. The ICC, he explained, had been established after World War II “to deal with problems that states would raise regarding war crimes, such as genocide or large-scale deportations … for states that did not have true judicial systems in law.”
But the Palestinians, he said, have no state, and furthermore the ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel.
“They took a Palestinian claim—who do not have a state—and accused the only democracy in the Middle East, which operates in accordance with the highest legal standards of the western democracies, which the court has no jurisdiction over. This is the first absurdity.”
The second absurdity, said the Israeli prime minister, “is that the prosecutor’s decision contradicts historical truth. It opposes the right of the Jews to settle in the Jews’ homeland. To turn the fact that Jews are living in their land into a war crime is an absurdity of epic proportions.”
The third absurdity, he said, “is that the prosecutor’s decision contradicts contemporary truth. … Who are they accusing here? Iran? Turkey? Syria? No, Israel. … This is terrible hypocrisy.”
Israel would fight the decision, he said, adding, “From the depth of our hearts, we thank U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he and President [Donald] Trump’s administration are struggling against these distortions, this injustice and this mendacity on a daily basis.”
The ICC has already incurred the wrath of the Trump administration, which has previously threatened it with sanctions and visa denials if it initiates inquisitions into American or Israeli actions.
In April, Bensouda’s visa was revoked by the United States after she began probing into American troops’ actions in Afghanistan.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo condemned the ICC announcement, saying it “unfairly targets” Israel.
A Hamas spokesman in Gaza, however, celebrated the decision, saying on Saturday that the terrorist organization “welcomes the decision to open an investigation into the war crimes committed by the occupation against the Palestinian people.”
“The importance of this decision lies in the start of the procedures and sanctions against the occupation,” the spokesman added.
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