Israel: ICC has no authority to hear Palestinian claims

PNN/Bethlehem/

Israel has revoked its decision to boycott the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague over its resolution to open a preliminary investigation into Israeli war crimes during its 2014 assault on Gaza, as well as crimes committed in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that Israel had decided during the last few days to open a dialogue with ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. He stated that this decision “does not mean we are cooperating with the preliminary examination the ICC is conducting at the Palestinian request”, but is rather to assert its claim that the ICC does not hold the authority to hear Palestinian complaints.

He added that this lack of authority stems from the ‘fact’ that “Palestine is not a country and because the Israeli judicial system is independent and can handle complaints on the matter of alleged war crimes.

“Nonetheless, as has been done in the past with other international organizations that dealt with matters related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as the UN secretary-general’s board of inquiry to examine the attacks on UN facilities in Gaza, we examined the matter and decided that in this case it would be proper to present the prosecutor and her staff with the Israeli position concerning the court’s lack of authority in a direct fashion, so that not only Palestinian claims are heard”.

The aim of this preliminary inquiry is to ascertain whether or not there is a reasonable basis to the claim that Israel has committed war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) that come under the ICC’s jurisdiction. If a full investigation is launched, it is possible that both Israeli and Palestinian actions will be examined.

Palestine officially became the 123rd member of the ICC on April 1 of this year, and submitted the first documents pertaining to Israeli war crimes and violations of international law two weeks ago.