ICC (International Criminal Court) in the Hague
ICC (International Criminal Court) in the Hague Bas Czerwinski/Pool via REUTERS

Senior officials in Israel's Foreign Ministry on Saturday evening responded to the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel for alleged "war crimes."

According to the Foreign Ministry, the ICC has no jurisdiction over events which occurred in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza.

"The decision creates a legal differentation which is completely wrong and very far from the clarity which the prosecutor wanted," they said. "Israel did not choose to be part of the ICC, and according to its constitution, only sovereign countries have the authority to allow the court to involve themselves with them. The sides themselves - Israel and the Palestinians - have decided that the issue of territory will only be discussed under the permanent agreement. This is an international institution which has been dragged into a political disagreement, while declaring wrong rulings."

"The decision also oversteps the court's mandate. The judges received a mandate to deal with the greatest violations of human rights, not cases like this when we're talking about countries like Israel, which is a strong democracy and which has its own strong and great legal system."

The sources added: "There is one consequence which cannot be ignored: We have an opportunity and momentum created to advance the Abraham Accords, to renew the security coordination and a new government. A decision such as this pushes the sides farther apart instead of bringing them to the negotiating table, and it works with those who want these processes not to succeed."

They also emphasized that the ruling does not mean an investigation will be opened.

"This decision claims that they have jurisdiction. There is a significant difference between jurisdiction and taking steps to investigate," the explained. "The prosecutor needs to make a decision, and there is a very long process until these processes occur."

Sources in the Justice Ministry added: "It's very important not to sow fear among the public when there is no justification for it. We are not in a situation in which an investigation was opened; there is also no immediate threat that they will issue arrest warrants for Israelis. This is a very long process and there are many stages until we reach the stage in which there would be theoretical preparation for them possibly issuing arrest warrants."

"We are prepared to aid and ensure that every citizen that the court tries to legally chase after will have comprehensive protection. We will put resources and actions into this issue."

Slamming the decision, the Justice Ministry sources said: "This is a very weak decision, from a legal perspective, and anyone who reads the stance of the majority versus minority will see that. The majority are relying on political decisions from the United Nations, and we know how that organization is managed. The judges, instead of analyzing the issue from a legal standpoint, decided to busy themselves with political decisions. The judge who was in the minority analyzed it in a legal fashion and clarified that there is no Palestinian state and that its territory cannot be marked off."

"This decision is very sad, not just from the perspective of Israel and the region, but also from the court's perspective. Such politicization and expansion of the court into political issues and not real war crimes is something that does not spell good for the court."

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