Israel Must Go on the Offensive against the International Criminal Court

Jan. 23 2020

The International Criminal Court (ICC), has a staff of 900 people and an annual budget of $160 million. But between its creation in 2002 and 2018 it has seen only nine cases to completion—all involving African countries—of which only two resulted in convictions. At the end of last year, it announced a formal investigation into supposed Israeli war crimes. Manfred Gerstenfeld urges Jerusalem to respond forcefully:

The government could have prepared a strong reaction crafted over many months, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett instead resorted to calling the court “anti-Semitic.” This may well be true, . . . but it is largely irrelevant. Anti-Semitism is not the battleground on which Israel’s political campaign against the ICC should be conducted.

Choosing the Israeli-Palestinian issue over dozens of other cases incomparably more in need of investigation by the ICC was a [purely] political decision. In order to gain relevance, the ICC needs to get away from Africa, and [the chief prosecutor] thought Israel would be a winnable target. The ICC thus defined itself as a political adversary of Israel, if not an enemy.

From a strategic point of view, the ICC should be confronted as an enemy. Israel should focus on vigorously publicizing that the deficiencies of the court grossly exceed its merits. The process of exposure will be much quicker if Israel mobilizes as many allies as possible who have come to a similar conclusion, including the U.S. Negative exposure of the ICC will be much faster than will the court’s investigation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: ICC, International Law, Israel diplomacy


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount