Israel’s Attorney General is drafting a legal opinion which will declare the International Court of Justice (ICJ) illegitimate on the grounds that there is “no Palestinian state”.
Avichai Mandelblit said yesterday that he was drafting the judgment to refute the ICJ’s legitimacy to rule on the Israel-Palestine conflict, claiming that there is no Palestinian state and citing the fact that Israel is not a member of the court.
Speaking to students at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, Mandelblit explained: “I intend to issue an opinion soon, according to which the International Court of Justice in The Hague has no authority to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because there is no Palestinian state,” Arutz Sheva reported.
Israel has consistently rejected efforts by the ICJ and its counterpart, the International Criminal Court (ICC), to investigate its human rights record. In this, Israel has received the support of its main ally – the USA – with National Security Adviser John Bolton saying in September that the institution is “dead to [us]”. Bolton continued: “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.”
The ICC was quick to respond to the US’ threats, saying: “As a court of law, [the ICC] will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law.” The ICC added that it is an independent and impartial institution with the backing of 123 countries.
Israel’s opposition to the ICJ and ICC has become more vehement in the wake of Palestine’s appeals to the court. In January 2015 the Palestinian Authority (PA) signed the Rome Statute of the ICC, officially accepting the court’s jurisdiction over its territories and allowing a preliminary investigation into the situation in Palestine to be opened.
In May 2018, the PA specifically requested that the ICC investigate crimes committed within its territories, with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki meeting ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to discuss the issue. The request called on The Hague to investigate the forcible transfer of Palestinians, unlawful killings, illegal appropriation of land and property, demolition of Palestinian properties, repression of dissent through the unlawful killing of peaceful protesters and the policy of mass arbitrary detention and torture.
Since then the PA has called on the ICC to investigate a number of incidents. In June, the PA asked the court to prosecute Israeli Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan for incitement after he called for Palestinians allegedly flying incendiary kites to be assassinated. In September, the PA called for an investigation into Israel’s planned demolition of the Palestinian village of Khan Al-Ahmar, which the ICC said could constitute a war crime. In October, the PA asked the ICC to investigate Israel’s escalation of illegal settlement in the West Bank city of Hebron.
Thus far neither the ICJ nor the ICC have prosecuted Israel for its actions.