“If you have the law, hammer the law. If you have the facts, hammer the facts. If you have neither the law nor the facts, hammer the table”.
Anonymous legal advice
Reports from Israeli press outlets this weekend show that the Jewish State fears the ICC’s (International Criminal Court) decision to move forward with an investigation into whether Israel committed war crimes in the Palestinian territories. Such a probe may expose current and former government officials and military personnel to prosecution on the global stage.
The ICC will investigate Israel’s policy of settling its citizens in the West Bank, its actions during the 2014 war in Gaza, and its response to Palestinian protests on Gaza’s border beginning in March of last year. The ICC will examine indiscriminate shooting by Hamas and other Palestinian groups into Israeli cities as well.
Israel plans to refuse to cooperate with the ICC, although such a move may put a long list of Israeli officials, potentially including the prime minister, defense ministers, IDF chiefs, the heads of the Shin Bet security service, and military officers as well as low-ranking soldiers, at risk of international arrest warrants if, in the absence of a state response, the ICC proceeds with the prosecution of individuals for the alleged crimes.
Israel’s reaction to the ICC’s top prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision to investigate is instructive. Instead of responding ethically and showing a willingness to defend its actions, Israel is hiding behind legalistic Talmudic arguments that seek to refute the ICC’s legitimacy and deny its jurisdiction over Israel and Israeli war criminals.
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s defense is based on ICC’s supposed ‘lack of jurisdiction.’ On Saturday, Mandelblit said that Israel “is a democratic state of law, obligated and committed to respecting international law and humanitarian values. This commitment has stood strong for decades, through all the challenged and tough times Israel has faced. It is rooted in the character and values of the State of Israel and guaranteed by a strong and independent justice system…there is no place for international judicial intervention in such a situation.”
Is this really an accurate description of Israel? If Israel is ‘democratic state of law’ that adheres to a universalist value system as Mandelblit insists,