Israel's Relations with the International Criminal Court

(Israel Hayom) Prof. Avi Bell - PA President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman recently announced the PA's intent to demand that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at The Hague file charges against senior Israelis for the "crime" of approving the construction of 650 residential units in Beit El. This demand joins a list of dozens of Palestinian complaints to the ICC about imaginary "crimes" of Israeli politicians and soldiers. Several months ago, they demanded the filing of criminal charges against U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for the "crime" of verbally supporting the potential legal rights of Israel in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. The Palestinian demands for criminal charges against Americans will go unfulfilled due to the Americans' strategy that is based on understanding that the ICC is a hostile political organization. Israel still insists on viewing the ICC as a legitimate legal institution. The American strategy expresses itself in three areas: A complete refusal to cooperate with the ICC, anchored in U.S. legislation. A campaign to delegitimize the ICC that includes transferring U.S. responsibility for dealing with the ICC to security officials rather than lawyers and presenting the ICC as an undemocratic, unaccountable, illegitimate institution that endangers the sovereignty of the U.S. and the constitutional rights of its citizens. Concrete threats against The Hague, including a threat to liberate Americans with force should they be arrested at the request of The Hague. The U.S. responded to the ICC prosecutor's request to open a full investigation of alleged crimes committed by American soldiers in Afghanistan by canceling the visas of ICC teams and threatening additional steps. Soon after, The Hague judges decided to close the case and terminate the investigation. The ICC prosecutor has already surrendered to Palestinian demands and opened a preliminary investigation against Israeli "criminals." Israel's state attorneys are engaging in "informal" cooperation with ICC lawyers to try to convince them that the ICC lacks legal jurisdiction to act against Israelis. These claims are correct, but the American experience shows that they will be ineffective. An effective Israeli strategy vis-a-vis the ICC requires only determination to fight a political battle, ending the treatment of the ICC as a professional legal institution, and an uncompromising struggle against its legitimacy. The writer is a lecturer at the University of San Diego School of Law and at Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Law.

2019-08-23 00:00:00

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