Aside from lobbying governments to oppose the International Criminal Court’s investigation and possible war crimes charges, Israel is planning a joint response with the US to counter the process. The plan, according to Israeli media reports, is to exert US influence globally and entice more governments to support Israel’s impunity.
According to an Israeli official: “The US has a lot of influence over the countries of the world and we want them to also put pressure on our matter when they are putting pressure on their matter and integrate us into their campaign.”
The US is currently facing the possibility of its military being investigated by the ICC for war crimes in Afghanistan since 2003. Both the US and Israel have not ratified the Rome Statute and they have declared their courts competent enough to investigate and prosecute in cases of human rights violations. However, the ICC can investigate and prosecute citizens of a non-member state if the war crimes are committed on the territory of a member-state.
Since the US and Israel are both opposing ICC investigations and for similar reasons, it is likely that the security narrative which propelled countries into supporting the “war on terror” will be revived to forge a semblance of common concern at a global level.
Attempts at discrediting the ICC’s decision with regard to Israel and the US will not suffice, despite the court having faced serious criticism for its bureaucracy and the singling out of African leaders while Western state terror and war crimes have been largely ignored. However, the recent decisions by the ICC to investigate Israel and the US are shifting international focus closer to the war crimes which so far have been justified by the international community. The closest the global narrative has ever got to admitting human rights violations was not by shedding light upon war crimes, but by disseminating the humanitarian narrative of the displaced. This has allowed the duplicity of committing war crimes and meting out inadequate compensation to flourish, with no political accountability, let alone criminal liability and justice.
A joint US-Israeli effort is not an ideal scenario for the Palestinian people. Palestinians are already politically isolated, more recently as a result of the so-called ‘deal of the century’ and Israel’s decision to unilaterally implement annexation, while the international community protects its two-state diplomatic stance.
“The United States supports a direct and robust peace process, and we will not allow the ICC, or any other organisation, to constrain Israel’s right to self-defence,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared in 2018. “If the Court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly.”
Clearly, the US-Israeli plan is to attack the ICC by forging allegiances with countries invested in the court and its judicial processes. There is enough international complicity when it comes to war crimes to influence governments into weakening the already compromised structure of the ICC.
Israel speaks of having a common interest with the US when it comes to opposing the ICC. Unfortunately, the truth is far more wide reaching than a joint US-Israeli effort – international complicity to shield Israel from culpability is the network requiring a fast dissolution if the settler-colonial state is to be held accountable for its terror.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.