TEL AVIV – Australia has joined the U.S. in rejecting the top prosecutor at the International Criminal Court’s proposed investigation into Israel for unsubstantiated war crimes claimed by the Palestinians, while Germany, on the other hand, has expressed its support for the probe.
“Australia is concerned by the ICC prosecutor’s proposal to consider the situation in the Palestinian Territories, subject to a ruling by the court’s pre-trial chamber on the scope of the court’s territorial jurisdiction in the matter,” a spokesperson for Canberra’s Foreign Ministry said.
“Australia’s position is clear — we do not recognize a so-called ‘State of Palestine’ and we do not recognize that there is such a State Party to the ICC’s Rome Statute,” the spokesperson went on.
“We consider that the question of territory and borders can be resolved only through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. This is the only way to ensure a durable and resilient peace.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz praised Australia for the statement and urged other governments to follow suit.
“Many thanks to the Australian government for taking the unequivocal and principled stance against the ICC prosecutor’s decision,” he wrote on Twitter. “I urge other countries to take a similar stance and not allow the court to turn into a political weapon against Israel.”
Many thanks to the Australian government for taking the unequivocal and principled stance against the ICC prosecutor's decision. I urge other countries to take a similar stance and not allow the court to turn into a political weapon against Israel.https://t.co/VU9mcvGqbC
— ישראל כ”ץ Israel Katz (@Israel_katz) December 24, 2019
Meanwhile, Germany departed from its unequivocal support of the Hague-based court by warning against a politicization of the Israeli-Palestinian case. However, its foreign ministry ultimately expressed its backing for the ICC’s move.
“We trust the independence of the International Criminal Court and are now confident that the court will resolve the issues raised. This will also address issues of admissibility that may be doubtful,” the spokeswoman for Germany’s foreign ministry, Maria Adebahr, said.
“We as the federal government cannot comment on specific details of ongoing proceedings. But, as I said, we trust that all arguments will belong fairly in the further proceedings. We are, of course, also committed to making the court strict on the basis of the Rome Statute,” she said.
“Basically, it applies to us that we naturally resist the fact that cases of any kind are used to politicize before the court. We are betting that admissibility will be checked and that the court will do it on the basis of the Rome Statute.”
The ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on Friday said that there is a “basis” to probe Israel’s actions in the Palestinian territories, including alleged war crimes in Gaza during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the court for its announcement, which he called “pure anti-Semitism.”
He appealed to several heads of state with close ties to Israel to express their opposition to the decision.
Also on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the probe “unfairly targets” Israel.
“As we made clear when the Palestinians purported to join the Rome Statute, we do not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state, and they therefore are not qualified to obtain full membership, or participate as a state in international organizations, entities, or conferences, including the ICC,” Pompeo said.
“The United States remains deeply, firmly, and consistently committed to achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The only realistic path forward to end this conflict is through direct negotiations,” he added.
Today, the #ICC prosecutor raised serious questions about the ICC’s jurisdiction to investigate #Israel. Israel is not a state party to the ICC. We firmly oppose this unjustified inquiry that unfairly targets Israel. The path to lasting peace is through direct negotiations.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 21, 2019