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Universal Jurisdiction Against Israeli Officials

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European Efforts to Apply the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction Against Israeli Officials

Summary Points:

  • Universal Jurisdiction is a principle in international law whereby states claim criminal jurisdiction over persons whose alleged crimes were committed outside the boundaries of the prosecuting state, regardless of nationality, country of residence, or any other relation with the prosecuting country
  • Universal jurisdiction is a very powerful tool in the context of the Israel/Palestine conflict, since the Israeli Supreme Court has not adequately conducted investigations of violations of international law. Since 2001 some European countries have tried to prosecute alleged Israeli war criminals under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Belgium, the UK, Spain, Turkey and Norway are some of these countries.
  • Below is an account of the how the process of prosecuting alleged Israeli war criminals in European countries has been politicised due to pressure exerted by Israel and the US on the prosecuting countries, to the extent that in Belgium the law has been narrowed down. Similar amendments may follow in Spain.
  • These political interferences with the judicial process risk violating the separation of powers and rule of law. What is worse, impunity of Israeli officials will continue and Palestinians will be offered no judicial redress for the war crimes perpetrated against them.
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