The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today welcomed the Australian Government’s formal submission to the International Criminal Court arguing that the Court does not have territorial jurisdiction to consider the “Situation in the State of Palestine.”
On Dec. 20, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced a decision to launch an investigation into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and asked the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) to confirm the Court has jurisdiction to do so. Israel is not a member of the Court, but the “State of Palestine” was accepted for membership under the Court’s Rome Statute in 2015.
The Australian submission argued that “the PTC should rule that the Court does not have jurisdiction over the situation and the PTC should decline the Prosecutor’s request to confirm that the ‘territory’ over which the Court may exercise its jurisdiction… comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.”
AIJAC’s Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein stated, “Australia has again demonstrated strong moral leadership and principled support for the rule of law and a negotiated two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace in its submission to the ICC. The submission not only outlines strong legal arguments preventing the Court having jurisdiction to consider the ‘Situation in Palestine’ – as the so-called ‘State of Palestine’ does not meet the necessary legal requirements for statehood under international law – but also makes the case that the Court risks undermining any prospects of a negotiated peace.”
“Furthermore, an ICC decision to try to adjudicate on the Palestinian territories would represent a clear politicisation of what is supposed to be a carefully neutral judicial body, risking any hope the Court can eventually serve its intended function as a backstop to make sure serious international war crimes do not go unpunished. Australian national interests and the interests of peace in the region demand that the ICC prosecutor’s plans to investigate the ‘Situation in Palestine’ must not go ahead, and the Australian Government deserves praise for saying as much,” he added.