The International Criminal Court’s decision to investigate alleged war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is “the epitome of antisemitism and hypocrisy”, Benjamin Netanyahu has said.
The Israeli Prime Minister pledged to reverse the decision soon after it was announced on Wednesday by Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the court, which is based in the Hague.
She said the probe, which would look into alleged crimes committed in the territories by both Israelis and Palestinians, will be conducted “independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favour.”
Palestinians have long pushed for an investigation since becoming a member of the court in 2015.
- Read more – Andrew Bowie MP: UK’s silence over ICC’s dangerous precedent is problematic
But leaders in Israel, which is not a court member, denounced the decision.
“The court set up to prevent the recurrence of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jewish people is now turning against the state of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said.
“Of course, it does not say a word against Iran, Syria and other dictatorships that are committing real war crimes.”
President Reuven Rivlin said the decision was “scandalous”.
“We are proud of our soldiers, our sons and daughters, the essence of our people, who stand guard for their country generation after generation, a defensive wall against all those who seek our harm,” he said.
“We will stand guard to ensure that they are not harmed because of this decision.”
But the move was welcomed by the Palestinian Authority, which said it was a “long-awaited step that serves Palestine’s tireless pursuit of justice and accountability, which are indispensable pillars of the peace the Palestinian people seek and deserve.”.
Bensouda’s announcement comes more than a year after she said in 2019 that there was a “reasonable basis” to open a war crimes investigation into both Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip and settlement activity in the West Bank.
She then asked judges to decide on whether the ICC had jurisdiction in the region.
They ruled last month that the court did have jurisdiction in the territories occupied by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967.
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