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On Israel, the International Criminal Court Has Lost its Way – Canada Must Say So

An image of the International Criminal Court in the Hague (Associated Press)
Feb. 8, 2021

OTTAWA – On Feb. 5, the International Criminal Court decided, in a 2-1 split vote, that its Chief Prosecutor has jurisdiction to investigate possible war crimes involving Israel in “Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

This decision is wrong and Canada must stand strong against the overt politicization of international bodies.

In response to the Court’s ruling, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau stated: “Canada’s longstanding position remains that it does not recognize a Palestinian state and therefore does not recognize its accession to international treaties, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

B’nai Brith Canada’s position has long been clear and unequivocal that the International Criminal Court lacks jurisdiction over the territories in question, as outlined in our policy paper.

Israel – like Canada – has long argued that the ICC has no jurisdiction to investigate alleged war crimes, not least because there is no sovereign Palestinian state that could delegate to the Court criminal jurisdiction over its territory and nationals. B’nai Brith Canada fully endorses this position.

However, while our government’s position on the jurisdictional issue is sound, Canada still needs to draw the consequences of its position to the current context – the politicization of the most recent decision. The Court treaty imposes on states parties a duty “to cooperate fully with the Court in its investigation and prosecution of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court” (Article 86).

Canada should state that it will not cooperate with the Court in any investigation or prosecution of crimes allegedly committed in ‘Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.’ Canada does not recognize Palestine as a state and should not consider itself bound by a ruling made on the basis of the claim that Palestine is a state.

“The Court’s decision needs to be clearly denounced as a politicization of the Court,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “This violates the basic purpose of the Court, does damage to the principles of international law, and undermines the Court’s legitimacy as an unbiased judicial forum.”

David Matas, B’nai Brith Canada’s Senior Legal Counsel, said: “It is irrefutably clear that the Palestinian Authority is not a state, despite overtly political efforts to describe it so. The Palestinian Authority is seeking to delegitimize Israel rather than negotiate peace with Israel. This is unacceptable.”

To read B’nai Brith’s full policy paper on the ICC, CLICK HERE.