THE US, Israel’s major backer and armer, has condemned the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to launch a full investigation into Israeli war crimes.
In a statement on Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US did not believe Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state and ‘they therefore are not qualified to obtain full membership, or participate as a state in international organisations, entities, or conferences, including the ICC’.
He was responding to an earlier declaration by the ICC Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that a 2015 preliminary examination into war crimes had provided enough information to meet all criteria for opening a probe.
Bensouda added: ‘I am satisfied that … war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (al-Quds), and the Gaza Strip,’ she said.
Pompeo insists that the ICC inquiry ‘unfairly targets Israel,’ which is not a member of The Hague-based court. Both Israel and the USA refused to sign up to the ICC, which was set up in 2002 to be the only global tribunal trying the world’s worst crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is facing criminal charges at home, condemned the ICC announcement as a ‘a dark day for truth and justice’ and that the court had ‘no jurisdiction in this case’ and that it had become ‘a political tool to delegitimise’ the Tel Aviv regime.
The Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki hailed the ICC decision as ‘a victory for justice and the Palestinian rights’.
He continued: ‘Yes, this is a dark day in the history of Israel because the ICC decided, after having all the available evidence and proof, that there was enough material to open a criminal investigation against Israel for committing what is considered war crimes and crimes against humanity.’
Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), added: ‘Israel must pay for its crimes and the Palestinian people will not accept exclusion from the universality of human rights.’
Hamas declared: ‘All evidence actually confirms the existence of war crimes committed by the occupation against our people … it is time that Israel was held accountable and punished for all the crimes it committed against the Palestinian people.
‘The importance of this decision lies in the actual beginning of the procedures of this decision and the start of the penalisation of the occupation for all the crimes it committed against Palestinian people,’ the spokesman added.
In a statement on Friday, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the court will launch a full investigation into war crimes in the Palestinian territories, expressing her satisfaction that there is a ‘reasonable basis’ to probe into the situation in Palestine.
The International Criminal Court says it will launch a full investigation into war crimes in the Palestinian territories.
Israel’s Channel 12 TV reported that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, along with ministers of military affairs, army chiefs, low-ranking soldiers and the heads of the Shin Bet security service in the past five years fear that they could be confined in the Israeli state, and arrested if they dare to venture abroad.
Israeli diplomats said: ‘There will be no cooperation with the court … certainly not if it will eventually be decided to open an official probe.’
The probe will cover Israel’s settlement policy in the occupied West Bank, crimes during the 2014 Gaza war, and crackdown on the Great March of Return protests in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Last Saturday, transportation minister Bezalel Smotrich called on Netanyahu to give the Palestinian Authority a 48-hour ultimatum to withdraw its ICC petition or see the Ramallah-based authority ‘torn down’.
The workers of the world and their trade union organisations must now move into action and impose a total boycott of Israel, and insist that international arrest warrrants are issued for all Israeli war criminals who must be handed over to the ICC to stand trial at The Hague.