Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he considers a war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) a “strategic threat” to Israel if it goes ahead, and one of the new government’s primary objectives would be to prevent such a probe.
Announcing it at the government’s first cabinet meeting, Netanyahu claimed that prosecuting Israel for alleged crimes it committed against the Palestinian Authority (PA) is a “rare strategic threat to Israel.”
“This is a worrying development,” said Netanyahu. “There is a word that I almost never use. Right, I don’t use the word ‘strategic.’ But here I will use this word, strategic. This is a strategic threat to the State of Israel – to IDF soldiers, to the commanders, to the ministers, to the governments, to everything,” he added. “We will discuss this in a separate forum.”
According to the Times of Israel, Likud Minister Ze’ev Elkin was appointed to coordinate the government’s response to the challenges posed by The Hague.
It comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, criticised the ICC and threatened that the US would “exact consequences” against it if it continued its war crimes probe into Israel. For his part, Netanyahu accused the ICC of “persecuting Israel”.
“The ICC is a political body, not a judicial institution,” a statement from Pompeo’s office read.
Pompeo stressed that even though the PA has purported to join the Rome Statute that created the court, “we do not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state, and they therefore are not qualified to obtain full membership, or participate as a state in international organisations, entities, or conferences, including the ICC.”