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Western diplomats warn ICC its future is at risk over probe of ‘Israel’, Palestinians

Unnamed Western diplomats warned on Thursday that the International Criminal Court’s decision to open an investigation into war crimes committed by ‘Israel’ and the Palestinians could endanger the future of the Hague-based legal body, Israeli media reported.

The anonymous officials told Israel’s Kan public broadcaster that there have been growing concerns within the diplomatic community of the increasing “politicization of the court and its investigations,” and that officials in The Hague have been told of the worries.

The diplomats also said that the United States had been willing to reconsider its opposition to the court and the sanctions put in place in 2019 by former US president Donald Trump, but that Wednesday’s announcement could influence such a decision being made by the current administration of Joe Biden.

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed the US’s firm opposition to the ICC’s decision, saying it has “no jurisdiction over this matter.”

He also said, “Israel is not a party to the ICC and has not consented to the Court’s jurisdiction, and we have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”

Blinken also stressed that the Palestinians don’t qualify as a sovereign state and therefore cannot participate in the ICC.

He stressed that the US remains “deeply committed to ensuring justice and accountability for international atrocity crimes” and recognizes “the role that international tribunals such as the ICC can play—within their respective mandates—in the pursuit of those important objectives.”

“Moreover, the United States believes a peaceful, secure and more prosperous future for the people of the Middle East depends on building bridges and creating new avenues for dialogue and exchange, not unilateral judicial actions that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution,” added Blinken.

“We will continue to uphold our strong commitment to Israel and its security, including by opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly.”

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda said on Wednesday that she launched a formal probe into war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the Situation since 13 June 2014, the date to which reference is made in the Referral of the Situation to my Office,” she added.

Israel is not a member of the ICC and neither is the US. The Palestinians joined the court in 2015.

Last year, the Trump administration imposed sanctions against ICC officials, including revoking chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s entry visa, in response to the court’s attempts to prosecute American troops for actions in Afghanistan.

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