(Israel Hayom/JNS) Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit this week dismissed the International Criminal Court’s ruling last week that it has jurisdiction to investigate Israel for war crimes, saying the court has no authority over the Jewish state.
“Since according to international law there is no such thing as a ‘state of Palestine,’ this [decision] poses no immediate threat to Israel,” he said. Still, he added that Israel was “preparing for the event of an investigation.”
Israel is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, from which the ICC draws its power. The Palestinian Authority joined in in 2015, with the explicit intention of pursuing action against Israeli officials.
The Israeli attorney general further said that the ICC’s decision was “regrettable, especially since the president of the partial chamber, who was in the minority opinion, sees things as we do—according to international law there is no state of Palestine. Eight other countries that support our position had said the same, as have international law experts.”
The foreign ministers of Germany and Hungary have criticized the ruling: “Our legal view on jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court regarding alleged crimes committed in the Palestine territories remains unchanged: The court has no jurisdiction because of the absence of the element of Palestinian statehood required by international law,” tweeted German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
“Like Israel, we don’t agree with this decision either. During the procedure, we already announced that Palestine does not have criminal jurisdiction over Israeli citizens,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó wrote on Facebook, adding: “We have always supported Israel’s right to self-defense and believe that only mutual respect-based negotiations can lead to peace in the area. Unfortunately, the decision of the International Criminal Court will not bring you closer to this.”
Germany and Hungary join the United States and other countries—such as Canada, the Czech Republic, Austria, Australia, Brazil and Uganda, the latter five of which filed documents with the ICC as amici curiae (outside observers) providing information in support of Israel—condemning the ICC ruling.
In a phone conversation on Monday, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi thanked U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken for America’s having condemned the ruling—on the grounds that the Palestinian Authority does not qualify as a sovereign state—and for voicing “serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”
Mandelblit went on to state that “the ICC was formed to fight atrocities worldwide. The state of Israel does not commit atrocities. We have rules of war, and our exemplary judiciary is world renowned. Issuing this ruling in regards to Israel of all countries—it’s very odd.”