Israel responded harshly to the PA’s ascension to the International Criminal Court, pointing to its technical and moral failures.
Jerusalem responded with rage and derided the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday, saying the PA’s decision to join the ICC, in order to initiate proceedings against Israel, is a “political, hypocritical and cynical maneuver.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry stated that Israel’s position, which is shared by several other countries, including the United States and Canada, is that the Palestinians are not legally eligible to join the ICC, as “the state of Palestine” does not exist.
“The ICC lacks jurisdiction in this instance, first and foremost because there is no Palestinian state according to international law. In this context, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor erred in its decision to open a preliminary examination,” the statement said.
Beyond the technical and legal issue, Jerusalem pointed to the essential absurdity of the move. The PA has established “a partnership with Hamas, a murderous terrorist organization that commits war crimes similar to those of Islamic State (ISIS). Such a government is the last party that should be able to threaten submitting complaints to the ICC in The Hague,” the Foreign Ministry declared.
Jerusalem warned that the PA attempt to advance proceedings against Israel at the ICC contradicts the core purposes for which the Court was founded and will bring about the “destructive politicization of the court” as well as undermine its standing.
“The ICC was established in order to prosecute those responsible for the world’s gravest atrocities. It is not acceptable to cooperate with those attempting to abuse the ICC system and its limited resources to promote their political agenda,” the statement read.
Such a move would further hinder the already-stalemated diplomatic process between Israel and the PA, Israel cautioned. “Unilateral Palestinian steps, in particular the move to join the ICC, are blatant violations of the basic principles that Israel and the Palestinians agreed upon – with the support of the international community – to resolve the conflict between the two sides. These unilateral measures demonstrate yet again the Palestinians’ rejection of negotiating peace with Israel.”
The Palestinians aside, Jerusalem rejected the need for an ICC investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel, as “Israel is a democracy that stands at the forefront of the global fight against terrorism, while continuing to respect international law. Insofar as claims are raised regarding alleged violations of the law, Israel investigates such claims in accordance with international standards and in a manner that has earned it international praise.”
“Israel will continue to defend itself and its citizens while respecting international law and abiding by Israel’s independent, impartial and effective legal system,” the Foreign Ministry stated.
PA Declares Victory
The PA and Hamas both reacted gleefully to the PA entry into the international judicial body.
The Palestinians, led by PA Mahmoud Abbas, initiating the process following the failure of the latest round of peace negotiations last year.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Wednesday that it was an “historic day in the struggle for justice, freedom and peace.”
“Today marks the official membership of the State of Palestine to the International Criminal Court, reflecting Palestine’s commitment to justice, international law and human rights,” Erekat told the press.
“In the face of the great injustice our people are enduring and the repeated crimes committed against it, Palestine has decided to seek justice, not vengeance,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said after a brief ceremony.
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said that Hamas supports “any Palestinian effort aiming at unveiling the practices and the crimes of the occupation,” referring to Israel.
“We call on the criminal court to start immediately suing the leaders of the Israeli occupation for the crimes they committed against the Palestinian people,” said Radwan.
He reiterated Hamas’ initial concerns that joining the court is only “a political action aimed at exerting pressure on the occupation to gain more supportive political stances,” consisting merely of a political maneuver with no real results.