Washington (The Inside Palestine)- The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed the US’s firm opposition to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to open a formal Israeli war crimes probe in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“The United States firmly opposes and is deeply disappointed by this decision. The ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter,” Blinken said in a statement issued on Thursday morning.
He added, “Israel is not a party to the ICC and has not consented to the Court’s jurisdiction, and we have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”
Blinken also stressed that the Palestinians don’t qualify as a sovereign state and therefore cannot participate in the ICC.
He stressed that the US remains “deeply committed to ensuring justice and accountability for international atrocity crimes” and recognizes “the role that international tribunals such as the ICC can play—within their respective mandates—in the pursuit of those important objectives.”
“Moreover, the United States believes a peaceful, secure and more prosperous future for the people of the Middle East depends on building bridges and creating new avenues for dialogue and exchange, not unilateral judicial actions that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution,” added Blinken.
“We will continue to uphold our strong commitment to Israel and its security, including by opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly.”
The US “firmly opposes and [is] disappointed by the ICC prosecutor’s announcement of an investigation into the Palestinian situation,” said Ned Price, the State Department’s spokesperson.
Speaking at the department’s press briefing, Price said that the US “will continue to uphold our strong commitment to Israel and its security, including by opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly.”
“The ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter,” he continued. “Israel is not a party to the ICC, and it has not consented to the court’s jurisdiction. We have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”
He went on to say that the Palestinians do not qualify as a sovereign state, and therefore are not qualified to obtain membership at the ICC.
“The United States has always taken the position that the court’s jurisdiction should be reserved for countries that consent to it or that are referred by the UN Security Council,” Price added.
“As we made clear when the Palestinians purported to join the Rome statute in 2015, we do not believe that Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state, and therefore are not qualified to obtain membership, as a state or to participate as a state in international organizations, and that includes, in the ICC.”
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda said on Wednesday that she launched a formal probe into war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the Situation since 13 June 2014, the date to which reference is made in the Referral of the Situation to my Office,” she added.
The prosecutor said that the Office will determine the “priorities concerning the investigation in due time, “in light of the operational challenges the office confronts from COVID-19, and the limited resources available to the office, and the current heavy workload.