ICC chief justice says his colleagues were wrong about Israel ruling

Judge Peter Kovacs says judges who ruled against Israel were wrong and jumped to conclusions not based in law.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The senior judge at the International Criminal Court said his colleagues were wrong about the Palestinians and Israel, issuing a dissenting opinion Friday detailing the mistakes they made.

Judge Peter Kovacs wrote that the majority of his colleagues had erred repeatedly in their interpretation of the law when they ruled that the ICC has jurisdiction in the Palestinian territories, even though the Palestinians are not a state member of the ICC and Israel does not belong to the court at all.

“I find neither the Majority’s approach nor its reasoning appropriate in answering the question before this Chamber, and in my view, they have no legal basis in the Rome Statute and even less so in public international law,” Kovacs wrote in his dissension.

Kovacs also criticized his colleagues for jumping to conclusions, saying they were wrong to assume that there was such a thing as a state called “Palestine.”

“These formulas (‘early realization’ — in French: ‘en vue de la réalisation rapide’ – and ‘in preparation for independence’) can hardly be interpreted as referring to an already existing, independent and sovereign State,” the judge wrote.

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“I agree neither with the conclusion, nor with the Majority’s reasoning and analysis in reaching such a conclusion,” he said.

The Palestinians and other anti-Israel groups had petitioned the court to charge Israel with war crimes over not only military action taken in Gaza following Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, but they also claim that Israeli housing in Judea and Samaria is a “war crime.”

The court ruling could pave the way for the court to prosecute members of the IDF for actions the Palestinians claim were against international law. While the court hinted it might also look at actions of the Hamas terror group, its arbitrary decision to consider the Palestinians as an existing nation, even though their only status is that of “observer-state” at the UN, angered both Israeli politicians and the IDF.

Kovacs says the other judges failed to take into account numerous statutes and agreements and had only considered “‘pre-1967 borders’ type formulas” that he said do not stand alone and should have been read alongside the Oslo and other agreements signed in 1993 and later.

“Had we referred to the Oslo Accords… this would have provided us with a more nuanced and, in my view, far more solid basis for the decision,” Kovacs gave as one example.

“We find ourselves in an ambiguous and delicate situation,” Kovacs wrote, noting in one section that the large number of countries treating the Palestinians as a country did not legally turn it into a nation member of the ICC.

Reporter Eylon Levy noted that Judge Kovacs’ intricately detailed 163-page dissension is worth reading because the criticism of the other judges’ ruling comes from a recognized legal expert who is not connected to Israel at all.