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US opposes ICC ruling it has jurisdiction to probe ‘Israel’ for war crimes

The US Department of State said on Friday that the US objects to the determination by a pretrial chamber of the International Criminal Court that The Hague has jurisdiction to open a criminal investigation into ‘Israel’ and the Palestinians for war crimes in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

“The United States objects to today’s International Criminal Court decision regarding the Palestinian situation. Israel is not a State Party to the Rome Statute,” tweeted State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Prices added, “We will continue to uphold President Biden’s strong commitment to Israel and its security, including opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly.”

The International Criminal Court said on Friday that its jurisdiction extends to territories occupied by ‘Israel’ in the 1967 war, clearing the way for its chief prosecutor to open a war crimes probe into Israeli war crimes.

“The Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine … extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” the judges said.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in 2019 that there was a reasonable basis to open a war crimes probe into Israeli war crimes against native Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as well as Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank. But she asked the court to determine whether she has territorial jurisdiction before proceeding with the case.

Palestine has asked the court to look into Israeli war crimes during its 2014 war against the Gaza Strip, when the Israelis killed 2147 Palestinians including women and children, and wounded 10870 others, as well as Israel’s construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

The State Department said in a formal statement, “We have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel. The United States has always taken the position that the court’s jurisdiction should be reserved for countries that consent to it, or that are referred by the UN Security Council.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Friday’s announcement, “Today the ICC proved once again that it is a political body and not a judicial institution.”

“The ICC ignores the real war crimes and instead pursues the State of Israel, a state with a strong democratic government that sanctifies the rule of law, and is not a member of the ICC.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan also called the move a “distorted and anti-Semitic decision.”