US State Department
US State DepartmentiStock

The US on Friday expressed concern over the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) ruling that it that it has jurisdiction over Judea, Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem, paving the way for a war crimes probe against Israel.

“We are reviewing the ICC decision on Palestine and we have concerns about the ICC taking steps against Israeli personnel,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

“We share the goals of the ICC but we always believed its jurisdiction should only apply for countries who agree for it or as a result of a UN Security Council decision,” he added.

Earlier, a three-panel judge at the ICC ruled that Judea, Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem are within the jurisdiction of the court.

In a press release, the ICC said that the judges ruled that "the Court's territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine, a State party to the ICC Rome Statute, extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denounced the ICC ruling, saying, "Today the court proved once again that it is a political body and not a judicial institution. The court ignores the real war crimes and instead pursues the State of Israel, a state with a strong democratic regime, which sanctifies the rule of law, and is not a member of the tribunal.”

“In this ruling, the tribunal violated the right of democracies to defend themselves against terrorism, and played into the hands of those who undermine efforts to expand the circle of peace,” he continued.

“We will continue to protect our citizens and soldiers in every way from legal persecution,” concluded Netanyahu.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced in late 2019 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.

The Trump administration slapped sanctions on ICC officials and had cited both their probe into US military personnel in Afghanistan as well as their efforts investigate Israel.

The Biden administration, however, has already announced plans to “thoroughly review” the sanctions that were imposed on the ICC by Trump.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)