“Misinformation and smear campaigns do not change facts,” said the ICC prosecutor.
By Josh Plank, World Israel News
International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda responded to criticism of her investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes through an ICC tweet on Friday.
“Misinformation and smear campaigns do not change facts about the conduct of my Office’s work concerning the situation in Palestine,” said Bensouda.
“Fact: my Office is executing its mandate concerning Palestine situation with utmost professionalism, independence & objectivity in strict conformity with the Rome Statute. Any insinuation or assertion to the contrary is simply misled & unfounded,” she said.
On May 5, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, an Israel-based research group, published a report titled “Legal Assault: How the ICC Has Been Weaponized Against the U.S. and Israel.”
The report said that “the overlapping connections between the Palestinian NGOs and terror groups and between Bensouda and FIDH [the International Federation for Human Rights] raise serious questions about objectivity and intent.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu blasted the ICC’s December 20 decision to open a war crimes investigation, saying, “They want to turn the fact that Jews live in the Land of Israel, in their homeland, into a war crime. It’s absurd.”
The Palestinian Authority, which has accepted ICC jurisdiction, lodged a complaint in January 2015 against Israel, which has not accepted ICC jurisdiction, for war crimes “in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I is currently deliberating preliminary matters concerning the investigation, chiefly among them being whether the chamber agrees with Bensouda’s decision that Palestine is a state with legal standing to refer a situation to the prosecutor.
The ICC was established by a treaty known as the Rome Statute in 2002, which established the World Court. Israel is not a party to the statute.
The court would rest its war crimes charge on Article 8(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute, which classifies as a war crime “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
Fatou Bensouda, a Muslim from Gambia, gave an interview with Al Arabiya before taking her position as ICC prosecutor in June of 2012.
When asked whether her religion plays any role in helping her with her new position, she said, “Absolutely, definitely. Islam, as you know, is a religion of peace, and it gives you this inner strength, this inner ability and a sense of justice. Together with my experience, this will help a lot.”