Israel Must Go on the Offensive against the International Criminal Court

January 23, 2020 | Manfred Gerstenfeld
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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.

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