ICC could decide on war crimes probe against Israel 'within days'

Israeli officials preparing for ICC decision on whether it can open an investigation into potential war crimes committed by Israel.

Elad Benari ,

International Criminal Court at The Hague
International Criminal Court at The Hague

Israeli officials are preparing for an International Criminal Court's decision on whether it can open an investigation into potential war crimes committed by Israel in Palestinian Authority (PA)-assigned territories "within days", Haaretz reported on Thursday.

The decision, which they expect will be made public shortly, will come after a years-long process in The Hague to determine the extent of the Court's jurisdiction in eastern Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

The ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced this past December that she intends to open a full investigation into alleged Israeli “war crimes”, but before opening a full probe, asked the ICC to rule on the territory over which it has jurisdiction because of the "unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation."

She subsequently ruled that “Palestine” is a state and the ICC has jurisdiction involving its cases.

Bensouda’s announcement was criticized in Israel and also by countries such as Australia and Hungary. Germany, meanwhile, backed Israel's argument that the court's jurisdiction does not extend to Palestinian Authority-assigned areas, as “Palestine” is not a state that fulfills all the criteria under general international law.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later slammed the ICC’s decision to investigate alleged war crimes by Israel in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, saying the US is “working along many fronts to prevent it from happening.”

Israeli officials believe that the timing of the court's decision on the question of jurisdiction is aimed at preceding any Israeli announcement on sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, which can take place as early as July 1 in accordance with the coalition agreement between the Likud and Blue and White parties.