Palestinian Foreign Ministry expresses concern over States Parties opposition to ICC ruling

Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has expressed concern over the position of States Parties to the Rome Statute from ICC ruling on Palestine.

“Israel’s frantic and highly politicized reaction to the Pre-Trial Chamber’s ruling on International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction in the State of Palestine was predictable,” said the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in a press release.

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“However, it is highly regrettable that States Parties to the Rome Statute are encouraging Israel’s intransigence with political statements that have no place in the discussion on the Court’s independent proceedings, including Germany, Canada, Australia, Austria, Brazil, and others.”

“It is particularly dismaying to see States Parties, including members of the United Nations Security Council, taking positions that run counter to their obligations under the Rome Statute. Such politicized attacks on the pursuit of accountability also undermine their role in encouraging a path forward towards peace in the region,” added the Foreign Ministry.

“Seeking justice for victims and accountability for international crimes must never be controversial. Justice is a requisite of peace.”

The ministry also said that denying Palestinian victims “the right to pursue peace is an inexcusable act of cruelty. Thankfully, these political positions are inconsequential to the proceedings at the ICC.”

Last week, Germany, Hungary, Canada, and Australia expressed opposition to the ICC ruling that it has jurisdiction to open a criminal investigation into ‘Israel’ for war crimes in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

Last Friday, the International Criminal Court said that its jurisdiction extends to territories occupied by ‘Israel’ in the 1967 war, clearing the way for its chief prosecutor to open a war crimes probe into Israeli war crimes.

“The Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine … extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” the judges said.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in 2019 that there was a reasonable basis to open a war crimes probe into Israeli war crimes against native Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as well as Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.

But she asked the court to determine whether she has territorial jurisdiction before proceeding with the case.

Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, said “the court has no jurisdiction because of the absence of the element of Palestinian statehood required by international law.”

“Our legal view on jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court regarding alleged crimes committed in the Palestine territories remains unchanged: the court has no jurisdiction because of the absence of the element of Palestinian statehood required by international law,” Maas said.

He added, “Our positions on #MEPP and the ICC in general remain unchanged, too: Since its foundation, German has been one of the ICC’s strongest supporters. We support the establishment of a future Palestinian state as part of a two state solution negotiated by Israelis and Palestinians.”

The foreign minister of Hungary, Péter Szijjártó, also expressed opposition to the ICC ruling, saying “Palestine does not have criminal jurisdiction over Israeli citizens.”

“Similar to Israel, Hungary does not agree with this decision. During the legal procedure we already signaled that, according to our position, Palestine does not have criminal jurisdiction over Israeli citizens,” Szijjártó said.

“We have always supported Israel’s right to defend itself,” he said. “We believe that peace in the region can only be achieved through negotiations based on mutual respect.”

“The decision of the ICC does not take us closer to this,” Szijjártó added.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne also reaffirmed his country’s position that ICC should not get involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, expressing “deep concerns” about the ruling.

“Australia does not recognize a ‘State of Palestine,’ noting that matters relating to territory and borders can only be resolved through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” Payne said on Saturday.

“We made clear in our observations submitted to the Pre-Trial Chamber that Australia does not therefore recognize the right of any so-called ‘State of Palestine’ to accede to the Rome Statute. The [ICC] should not exercise jurisdiction in this matter.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau also said his country “is firmly committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“Canada strongly supports the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the important work that it does as a key pillar of the rules-based international order. Canada continues to respect the independence of its judges and of the ICC Prosecutor,” Garneau said.

“Canada is firmly committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We continue to support the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel. The creation of a Palestinian state can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties.

(Source / 11.02.2021)

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