Developments at ICC could affect Israel

  • NGO MONITOR logo
At a round table discussion sponsored by NGO Monitor and the Department of Political Studies and the Faculty of Law at Bar-Ilan University held yesterday, December 19, a panel of experts discussed concerns about the future of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the potential impact for Israel following recent developments.
by ANT KATZ | Dec 20, 2016

The panel examined the intended withdrawal of some African countries from the court, proposed Israeli settlement legislation, possible indictments of American and British soldiers, and the impact of these issues on the ICC's ongoing investigation into Israel.

Prof Eugene Kontorovich, Professor of Law at Northwestern University, told the panel: "The ICC is not an all-powerful forum of international justice, but rather a politically weakened institution that has had numerous countries quit its membership in recent months. Perhaps it is true justice that real countries began quitting the ICC shortly after it accepted a non-country - Palestine."

Bar Ilan LogoAmong the leading experts who addressed the event were Prof Gerald Steinberg, Professor of Political Science at Bar-Ilan University and President of NGO Monitor; Anne Herzberg, legal adviser at NGO Monitor; Advocate Pnina Sharvit Baruch, head of the programme on Law and National Security at the Institute for National Security Studies and former head of the IDF International Law Department; and Prof Avi Bell, Professor of Law at Bar-Ilan University and University of San Diego.

Referring to how the ICC often uses political rather than legal definitions, including broad interpretations of occupation and settlement activity, Prof Bell said: "When the crime has expanded to everything, we are all criminals."

ICC logoAddressing the question of whether the ICC is a politicised body “similar to the UN Human Rights Council,” said NGO Monitor in a media release afterwards, Adv Baruch said: “There is no proof yet that the court will be clearly political... but we have good arguments and Israel should present them."

Noteworthy comments:


ANNE HERZBERG: "The International Criminal Court is a young institution working on building its legitimacy. Yet, the Office of the Prosecutor appears to be repeating many of the mistakes of other international organisations investigating armed conflict by heavily relying on the unverified claims of a narrow sector of political advocacy NGOs. In the case of the investigation of the Gaza War, this narrow sector consists almost exclusively of NGOs promoting the Palestinian narrative, including several NGOs that have links to the PFLP terror organisation. If the ICC wishes to be viewed as a credible institution carrying out genuine investigations, the prosecutor must end this practice."

PROF GERALD STEINBERG: "The negotiations to establish the ICC are an important part of the story. Clearly the ICC is a political body as much as it is a legal body. As such many NGOs, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are seeking to use this human rights framework as part of political lawfare, demonisation of Israel, and human rights and war crimes allegations."

  • NGO Monitor is an organisation that provides information and analysis, promotes accountability, and supports discussion on the reports and activities of non-governmental organizations claiming to advance human rights and humanitarian agendas


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