The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) has asked the UK government to take the Israeli government to the ICC for any war crimes committed in Palestine, and to acknowledge the ICC‘s authority in the Palestinian territories that are under Israeli control.
Today, the ICJP wrote a letter to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary James Cleverley, demanding that Number 10 recognise the ICC‘s authority in regard to the situation in Palestine. Furthermore, the ICJP asked the UK, as a State Party to the ICC, to refer the situation and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Court as stated in Article 14 of the ICC Statute.
Article 14 states that a State Party may alert the ICC Prosecutor to a situation where it appears that one or more crimes within the Court‘s jurisdiction have been committed, and requests the Prosecutor to conduct an investigation to decide if certain individuals should be charged with the alleged offenses.
The letter comes after the UK took the initiative to bring the matter concerning Ukraine before the ICC in cooperation with several other State Parties. The court has requested additional funds in order to take action against Russia for the purported war crimes it has committed in Ukraine.
The letter urged Britain to take similar action to what it did in the Ukraine crisis, and declared that the International Criminal Court should be given jurisdiction over the Palestinian matter and Netanyahu‘s involvement should be referred to the Court by the UK, as an ICC member state, in accordance with Article 14 of the ICC Statute.
Netanyahu and the Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen are planning to visit London this week to meet with their British government counterparts. The trip coincides with the signing of the 2030 roadmap for UK–Israel bilateral relations, and the two sides are anticipated to talk further about trade, technology and security.
As part of the new “strategic partnership“ being negotiated between London and the Israeli occupation, the British government has promised to not label Israel‘s treatment of Palestinians as “apartheid“, a term recently used by Israeli and Palestinian activists, as well as major human rights organisations such as B‘tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
The letter alludes to the ICC Prosecutor‘s past determinations that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that Israeli forces violated international laws during the 2014 Gaza conflict, such as the deliberate targeting of medical personnel and equipment. Additionally, the letter mentions the ICJP‘s prior submissions to the ICC regarding the targeting of journalists and media infrastructures by the Israeli occupation forces, as well as the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes in the Sheikh Jarrah area.
The letter indicated that the former ICC prosecutor had come to the conclusion that, during the 2014 fighting in Gaza, Israeli occupation forces had likely committed war crimes. Drawing from the ICC prosecutor and many UN reports, the ICJP stated there is “overwhelming evidence“ that the Israeli occupation has violated international law.
The ICJP expressed its disapproval of the UK‘s stance against applying the term apartheid when referring to the Israeli occupation. In the 2030 Roadmap for UK–Israel bilateral relations published on 21 March 2023, the UK Government stated in 2(b)(ii) that the UK and the Israeli occupation ‘disagree with the use of the term ‘apartheid‘ with regard to Israel‘. The ICJP, however, argued that numerous human rights organizations have provided evidence that the Israeli occupation has taken part in activities which constitute the crime of apartheid.