Israeli officials soon before the ICC?

As the ICC is about to rule on its jurisdiction over the investigation of alleged war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, the Israeli authorities, according to the Haaretz newspaper, are preparing a list of hundreds of political and military officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who can be prosecuted by the court.

According to the leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Hebrew state is preparing a secret list of politicians, soldiers and officials who can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) if it gives the green light. to launch an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories in 2014.

The newspaper, which did not disclose its sources, says it in an article published on July 16, that the list would include the names of 200 to 300 people, including those of certain Israeli leaders who were in service during the last war with Gaza in 2014. Among them are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former ministers Moshe Yaalon, Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett, and the then Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, now President of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament.

On December 20, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced his willingness to launch a full investigation into possible “war crimes” committed in the Palestinian territories in 2014. In 2015, a preliminary investigation was launched into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and the Palestinian territories. the wake of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. A war that left 2,200 dead on the Palestinian side, including 1,500 UN civilians, and 73 dead on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers.

“A revolt”

However, Fatou Bensouda asked the ICC to “determine the scope of the territorial jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in the situation in Palestine”, ie to decide on the “territory” over which the court can exercise its jurisdiction and which may be the subject of an investigation.

This decision, which according to the Israeli media will take place in the coming days, will return to the three judges the preliminary chamber responsible for determining the ICC’s jurisdiction in the Palestinian territories, the French Perrin de Brichambaut, the Hungarian Péter Kovács and the Beninese Queen Adelaide Sophie Alapini-Gansou.

Israel called the “uprising” the approach of Fatou Bensouda, whom she herself accused of Benjamin Netanyahu of “turning the ICC into a political tool for delegitimizing the state of Israel”.

Israeli officials reject the jurisdiction of the court and consider that “Palestine is not a state” and therefore the territories cannot fall under its jurisdiction. The Palestinian Authority acceded in 2015 to the Rome Statute – which governs the ICC – unlike Israel, which, like China or the United States, is not a member of this international court.

It is in this context that the Israeli government is developing its list, as theoretically the ICC would declare itself competent and in the event that Israeli leaders are prosecuted, they would then be subject to an international mandate. . The 123 countries that are parties to the ICC Charter for Rome would then be required to cooperate, arrest the persons concerned and refer them to the Court.

A list that Haaretz should have kept secret, but not just for security reasons. Israeli officials feared that the revelation of the sole existence of the list would be perceived by the ICC as a kind of official confession that these people were involved in the facts being investigated.

The fact remains that the Hebrew state, regardless of the ICC’s decision, refuses to cooperate with a court it does not recognize, even though regular contacts have taken place between the Israeli authorities and the prosecutor’s office during the preliminary investigation.

Fatou Bensouda decided to continue his investigations

Especially since Fatou Bensouda does not intend to limit herself to the war in 2014. She announced in December that she could also conduct investigations into the use of non-lethal and lethal means by Israeli forces against “return marches”, demonstrations organized since March 2018 in Gaza . But even though Israeli settlement policy, Fatou Bensouda estimates that “members of the Israeli authorities have committed war crimes,” especially by transferring Israeli civilians to the West Bank.

In a document, the prosecutor also mentioned her “concerns” regarding the election promise by Benjamin Netanyahu of a future annexation of the Jordan Valley and settlement blocks located in zone C of the West Bank.

“Israeli officials have recently stated that the (annexation) decision could be taken at any time and that an official declaration of annexation of areas in the West Bank could further damage Israel’s position in the process,” Haaretz wrote.

In “L’Entr interview de France 24”, broadcast on July 2, Fatou Bensouda assured that she was determined to continue her investigations, which also include an investigation into the alleged crimes committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories, despite the pressure as the Hebrew state and the United States exercise jurisdiction over the court.

In early June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would try to prevent the ICC, which has recently been threatened by Washington sanctions, from launching an investigation against its Israeli allies. “We are determined to prevent the ICC from persecuting our Israeli friends,” he said. in an interview with the think tank “American Enterprise Institute”and describes the court as a “corrupt court”.