Efforts to interfere with the International Criminal Court's investigation into Israel's alleged war crimes have been slammed by more than 50 former prime ministers, foreign ministers, and senior international officials. Prominent figures from across Europe who have signed an open letter include the former NATO secretary-general Javier Solana and Hans Blix, former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The signatories criticised efforts by Israeli allies such as Britain and the US to block the ICC investigation. "We witnessed with serious concern the executive order issued in the United States by the former president Donald Trump and the sanctions designated against the court's staff and their family members," they pointed out. They condemned such "increasing attacks" which target not only the court and its staff but also civil society groups which cooperate with the probe.
"Deeply worrying is now the unwarranted public criticism of the court regarding its investigation of alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism," they continued. "It is well established and recognised that accountability for serious rights violations by all sides to a conflict is essential for achieving sustainable and lasting peace. This is the case in Israel-Palestine, just as in Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan, Mali, Bangladesh/Myanmar, Colombia, and Ukraine."
Attempts to discredit the court and obstruct its work cannot be tolerated, the signatories insisted, especially if the international community is serious about promoting and upholding justice globally. Complaints have been levelled at the court by a number of world leaders and pro-Israel groups.
"We understand fears of politically motivated complaints and investigations. Yet we strongly believe that the Rome statute guarantees the highest criteria of justice and provides a crucial avenue to address impunity for the world's most serious crimes. Failure to act would have grave consequences."
Former US President Donald Trump was bitterly hostile towards the ICC. Last June he imposed sanctions against prosecutors and officials of the court. The Biden administration has now lifted those sanctions. Nevertheless, Washington is incensed that the court is probing into alleged Israeli war crimes.
Boris Johnson's pro-Israel stand is "regrettable" according to the Palestine Mission in London. The staunchly pro-Israel lobby group Conservative Friends of Israel, meanwhile, has written to the British prime minister and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab with the demand that the government joins "close allies the United States, Australia, and Germany in publicly cautioning against the politicisation of the ICC."
Johnson was named in an investigation just over a week ago along with several Conservative cabinet members as major recipients of donations from anti-Palestinian, pro-Israel lobby groups. The prime minister reportedly went on several trips to Israel which were jointly funded by CFI and the Israeli government.