Israel will tell the International Criminal Court (ICC) that it does not have the authority to investigate war crimes in the Palestinian Territories, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced on Thursday.
“Israel is a state governed by the rule of law, which can check itself,” the office said in announcing that a letter would be sent to the ICC rejecting its jurisdiction.
Last month, the ICC officially opened investigations into war crimes committed in the Palestinian Territories.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in 2019 that she was convinced war crimes had been or were being committed in these areas, and that there was “a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.”
A preliminary summary of the court’s findings stated that there was evidence that the Israeli Defence Forces, Israeli authorities, Hamas and armed Palestinian groups had committed war crimes, including during the 2014 hostilities in Gaza.
“In the letter [to the ICC], Israel will clearly reject the allegation that it is committing war crimes,” the statement from Netanyahu’s office said. “Israel reiterates its unequivocal position that the court in The Hague has no authority to open investigations.”
ICC judges ruled in February that the court’s jurisdiction extends to territories occupied by Israel, including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Israel does not recognize the ICC and had harshly condemned this decision at the time. The Palestinian Territories became a member of the court in 2015.