Yuval Steinitz
Yuval Steinitzצילום: אסתי דזיובוב/TPS

Israel’s Energy Minister, Yuval Steinitz (Likud), excoriated the International Criminal Court Friday morning, and ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, following Bensouda’s decision Thursday to move forward with a case filed against Israel by the Palestinian Authority.

In a statement released Friday morning, Minister Steinitz, who also serves as Israel’s Coordinator of the Interministerial Task Force for the International Criminal Court, accused Bensouda of holding an anti-Israel bias, which he said was influenced by the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

"As someone who has closely followed developments at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, I am forced to conclude that the Prosecutor’s latest position continues to espouse her typical anti-Israel stance, as influenced by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the global BDS movement.”

Steinitz went on to say that Bensouda’s ruling Thursday that the Palestinian Authority can be regarded as a state for the purposes of legal standing to file a petition with the ICC ignored the rules of international law and effectively ‘invented’ a Palestinian state – despite the fact that no final status agreement on the issue of Palestinian statehood.

“The Prosecutor’s disregard for the opinions of some of the world’s leading experts on international law points to her determination to harm the State of Israel and tarnish its name. In the name of this objective she has reformulated the rules of international law, inventing a Palestinian state while the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has yet to be concluded.”

“Israel will continue to be proud of the fact that it is the only liberal democracy in the entire Middle East – and to vigorously reject baseless attempts to tarnish its name and harm its soldiers and civilians."

On Thursday, Bensouda ruled that the Palestinian Authority’s petition against Israel can move forward, claiming that the PA is a state and therefore has standing to file a war crimes complaint.

A three-judge panel of the ICC Pretrial Chamber must now affirm the decision before it is formally adopted.

The complaint accuses Israel of war crimes in the 2014 conflict with Hamas. The complaint also claims that Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria and neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem constitute war crimes.

The Palestinian Authority and the PLO lauded the ruling Thursday, calling it a “message of hope”.

"The arrival of Palestine at this stage sends a message of hope to our (Palestinian) people that the date is coming on which a criminal investigation will be launched against those in Israel who have committed war crimes against the Palestinian people," said senior PA negotiator and PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat.