ON the eve of President Reuven Rivlin’s visit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has commended Australia for its “steadfast stand alongside Israel” at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced her intention last December to open an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian-controlled territories.
While outlining her belief that the 2012 UN General Assembly resolution that gave the “State of Palestine” non-member observer status gives the ICC the authority, Bensouda acknowledged this may not be the case and directed a panel of three ICC judges to determine, within 120 days, if Palestine is a state for the purposes of the court having jurisdiction over its territory.
Following a December letter to Netanyahu in which Prime Minister Scott Morrison reiterated Australia does not view Palestine as a state and a party to the ICC, the federal government said last Friday in a submission to the court, “Australia does not recognise the ‘State of Palestine’ … under the Rome Statute [the treaty that established the ICC].”
In exclusive comments, Rivlin told The AJN this week, “The call for the court to overstep its authority means not only breaching its character as a judicial body, but to completely lose its judicial impartiality.”
Labelling the ICC “a political instrument in the war against Israel”, Netanyahu said on Monday, “I would like to commend Germany, Australia, Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Uganda, which have joined the US in a steadfast stand alongside Israel.”
His sentiments were echoed by Jewish communal leaders in Australia.
“We are delighted that the government has again acted on its commitment to support Israel in international forums and to challenge the Palestinian lawfare campaign,” Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said.
“On any objective analysis applying the well-known criteria for statehood under international law, ‘Palestine’ does not have the status of a state.
“The Palestinians have manipulated international forums to give the appearance of legitimacy to their agenda of seeking Israel’s international isolation. [The PA’s] move in the ICC must be viewed in this context.”
Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) president Jeremy Leibler said the government’s application “was the right thing to do”.
“The determination by the ICC’s prosecutor that it has jurisdiction in the West Bank and Gaza politicises the court. This weakens its judicial legitimacy,” he said.
The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) said it “welcomes Australia’s legally principled stance on this important matter”.
Last Friday, communal leaders also called on the government to condemn a blacklist of companies operating in the West Bank released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Most of the 112 companies on the list are Israeli, including all major banks, state-owned transportation companies Egged and Israel Railways Corporation, and telecommunications giants Bezeq, HOT and Cellcom.
The list also includes 18 international companies, such as Motorola, Airbnb, Trip Advisor, Expedia and General Mills (all US), Alstom (France) and Greenkote (UK).
ZFA president Leibler said, “A list of sanctioned Jewish businesses, created by a body consisting of some of the world’s worst human rights abusers, is reminiscent of 1930s Germany.”
AIJAC executive director Colin Rubenstein called the blacklist “the ultimate sign of hypocrisy and bias”.
“These are legitimate businesses providing goods and services to the populations of the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” he said.
A spokesperson for Morrison told The AJN he had already made his feelings known regarding anti-Israel bias at the UN and he would not be commenting further.
With TIMES OF ISRAEL
- Scott Morrison
- Federal government
- Federal politics
- Benjamin Netanyahu
- Reuven Rivlin
- International Criminal Court
- Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ)
- Alex Ryvchin
- Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA)
- Jeremy Leibler
- Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)
- Colin Rubenstein