Israeli group proposes extreme measures to prevent cooperation with International Criminal Court

Shurat HaDin says the danger to Israel from a biased court is real and thus Israelis should not be allowed to provide it with legal ammunition.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An Israeli NGO has prepared a law it hopes the next Knesset will adopt that forbids Israelis and others from cooperating with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its possible war-crimes investigation against the Jewish State, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.

Shurat HaDin, which has specialized for decades in suing Palestinian terror organizations for their murderous acts in a bid to dry them up financially, sees the court’s attempt to interfere in the century-old Middle East conflict as no less a danger to Israel.

“The State of Israel must do everything in its power to prevent the court from acting against Israelis. While the court takes an anti-Semitic stance against the State of Israel and IDF soldiers, we must enshrine in clear legislation that no Israeli body or authority will provide information to the court against Israelis,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the NGO’s president and chief litigator.

The fully drafted “Bill for Protection Against the Activities of the International Criminal Court in The Hague” includes five years’ imprisonment and financial sanctions for any civilian Israeli entity that provides services or transfers information of any kind to the court, directly or indirectly.

State authorities could only do so if the Minister of Justice has given approval. There would also be legal implications for foreign entities that assist the tribunal and operate within Israel.

The law includes ways to make it difficult for any court employees to carry out an investigation. It does not allow any tribunal representative to enter the country, let alone carry out any action within Israel. It also defines court property in Israel as an asset of a terrorist organization.

Perhaps most importantly, it bars extraditing anyone to the tribunal that the court wants to detain or investigate, and if any individuals are indicted, the state would be obliged to legally and economically protect them.

When the Palestinian Authority (PA) turned to the court in 2015, it accused Israel of the war crime of targeting Gazan civilians in Operation Cast Lead (Dec. 2008-Jan. 2009), when Israel entered the Strip to stop Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket fire into Israel. The PA also claimed that building Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria was a war crime.

If the ICC decides in the PA’s favor, it would mean that any Israeli who lived in the region or participated in the IDF’s operation would be considered a wanted felon who could be arrested when traveling abroad. Additionally, El Al would not be permitted to land in any countries that are signatories to the court.

The ICC ruled earlier this month that its jurisdiction “extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.” The dissenter in the 2-1 decision, senior judge Peter Kovacs, gave many reasons for his opposition. This included siding with the Israeli position that the PA is not a sovereign country even if it was granted non-member, observer state status by the UN General Assembly in 2012. As this body does not have any legal power to define statehood, and only states can bring suits to the court, Kovacs argued that the case should be a non-issue for the ICC.

Fearing its politicization, neither the Israelis nor the Americans became member states bound by the court, which was founded to investigate countries or individuals for possible crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, or aggression only in places that do not have a robust, independent judicial system.

Darshan-Leitner pointed out that the United States took similar steps to her proposed law in order to protect itself from the ICC immediately after it was established 22 years ago.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the ICC ruling “pure anti-Semitism.”