Israel’s foreign minister told his American counterpart that the Palestinians’ active involvement in the ICC probe will “harm any chance of progress.”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold a meeting to develop Israel’s strategy in confronting the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) war crimes probe.
Israel has an April 9 deadline to respond to ICC correspondence on the matter and must decide whether to engage with the tribunal, which many say lacks legitimacy, or boycott its efforts.
On Friday, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a phone call Ashkenazi said was “important” in which they discussed the “common values shared by Israel and the US.”
Blinken informed Ashkenazi of the US’ intention to remove sanctions against the ICC.
The Trump administration sanctioned the ICC and some of its members after it announced it was launching a probe against Israel for alleged war crimes it committed, following a campaign led by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Blinken clarified that the US does not agree with the ICC’s “activities with regards to the Palestinian matter nor with the Court’s attempt to exercise its authority against non-member countries” such as Israel, and noted that the U.S. will “continue to uphold its commitment to Israel.”
Ashkenazi emphasized Israel’s “firm position” against the ICC’s jurisdiction and Israel’s absolute commitment to protecting its citizens and soldiers.
Israel has repeatedly stated that the ICC lacks any jurisdiction on this matter since no sovereign Palestinian state exists nor does any territory belonging to such an entity. Moreover, the PA has no jurisdiction over Israeli citizens.
Several countries expressed opposition to the ICC’s announcement.
Ashkenazi also clarified that the PA’s active involvement in advancing the case and the investigation will “harm any chance of progress whether that be at the political level or the situation on the ground.”
“The Palestinians’ activity has a destructive impact on relations with Israel,” he warned.
They also discussed regional strategic issues and Iran’s “perpetual and intensifying violations of its nuclear commitment as well as Iran and its proxies’ regional activities, which escalate and undermine the stability of the Middle East.”
Blinken updated Ashkenazi on the talks expected to be held this week in Vienna with Iran.
Representatives from the US and the powers that have signed the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 will hold a meeting with Iranian representatives to discuss the renewal of the nuclear deal.
Iran has expressed readiness to make changes to the current state of its nuclear project in exchange for the complete lifting of sanctions.
They also discussed the Palestinian topic, including the U.S.’ renewed assistance to the PA.
“The strategic alliance between Israel and the US is based on many shared values and interests, and I see great importance in holding an open and honest discussion between us,” concluded Ashkenazi.
Blinken stated that it was “great” speaking to Ashkenazi to discuss the US’ “unwavering dedication to Israel’s security,” as well as the US’ “commitment to freedom, prosperity, and democracy for Israelis and Palestinians.”
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price stated after the conversation that Blinken “emphasized the Administration’s belief that Israelis and Palestinians should enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy.”
Blinken reiterated the US’ “strong commitment to Israel and its security and looks forward to strengthening all aspects of the US-Israel partnership.”
Former Member of Knesset Ayoub Kara warned that the Biden administration’s decision to lift sanctions on the ICC will “give the Hague tribunal a tailwind to continue making anti-Semitic decisions against Israel.”