US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has voiced “firm” opposition to a bid in the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories.
After nearly four years of preliminary investigation, the ICC’s top prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Friday that the war crimes probe would be expanded into a full-scale inquiry, looking into whether Israel has carried out atrocities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as Gaza.
In a statement echoing earlier remarks by right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo said the case had no merit.
— Middle East Peace Plan (@MiddleEastPlan) December 21, 2019
“We firmly oppose this and any other action that seeks to target Israel unfairly,” Pompeo said on Friday, arguing that because Palestine does not qualify as a “sovereign state” and is not a party to the ICC’s founding charter, the Rome Statute, it cannot bring cases before the court.
PM Netanyahu made a nearly identical argument to Pompeo’s earlier on Friday, insisting the court had no jurisdiction and that Palestine had not achieved statehood – a goal Palestinians have pursued for decades despite tooth-and-nail opposition from both Tel Aviv and its American benefactor.
US Opposes ICC Prosecutor Investigation of Israel for Alleged ‘War Crimes’ – Pompeo: https://t.co/HHEnFu599I
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While Palestine has yet to achieve statehood, the quasi-governmental Palestinian Authority was accepted into the ICC in 2015. Nonetheless, Bensouda signaled that she will convene with the court to confirm exactly how far its jurisdiction extends before moving ahead with the investigation.
Tel Aviv has been accused repeatedly over the years of carrying out war crimes against Palestinians, including the demolition and shelling of civilian homes and other structures, forcible relocation of residents and the use of live ammunition on unarmed demonstrators. Many of the allegations stem from Israel’s settlement project in the occupied territories.
(RT, PC, Social Media)