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Israel responds to ICC: You have no jurisdiction over us

The International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes. The government plans to respond to this in a letter to The Hague, senior ministers decided on Thursday.

The answer is in line with Israel’s longstanding position on the issue.

Israel is not a member of the ICC and has a policy of non-cooperation with it, so it is unclear whether the government will respond at all to the letter, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, sent to the Jewish state last month.

Israel’s argument is based on the court’s own rules, which state that its cases will involve Member States and that it does not interfere in countries with judicial bodies capable of prosecuting crimes against humanity fairly. Israel has designated its own independent judiciary capable of prosecuting soldiers who commit war crimes.

Furthermore, although the Palestinian Authority is a party to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC, Israel claims that it is not a state and therefore cannot legally be a member of the tribunal. The PA filed a complaint against Israel, which led to an investigation.

These arguments were reiterated by eight ICC Member States: Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Brazil, Uganda, Austria, Australia and Canada.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Benny Ganz met for the second time on Thursday, a day before the deadline for Israel to respond to Bensoud̵

7;s letter. The meeting was also attended by Education Minister Joav Galant, Energy and Water Minister Juval Steinitz, Attorney General Avaj Mandelblitt, National Security Council Chief Meir Ben-Shabat, and IDF Chief Military Advocate Sharon Afek.

Last month, Bensuda announced it was launching an investigation into war crimes against Israel. The probe is expected to include Operation Protective Edge from 2014, riots on the Gaza border in 2018 and the settlement plant, including East Jerusalem. Senior officials who could be vulnerable to war crimes cases include Netanyahu and Ganz, who was IDF chief of staff in 2014, as well as hundreds of IDF officials.

Labor leader Merav Mihaeli said that “the government has had to work day and night to ensure that such a decision is never made by The Hague, but it is in the process of relinquishing its duty.

“Netanyahu’s behavior could lead to a high cost for IDF officers and soldiers,” she warned. “Netanyahu is threatening Israel; Netanyahu must go.”

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