February 16, 2020 / 6:40 PM / 5 months ago

Israel hopes Germany, other ICC members will help stave off Palestinian investigation

(This February 16 story changes “thousands of killings” to “reports of more than 200 killings and thousands of injuries” and changes December to January in paragraph 2)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem February 16, 2020. Gali Tibbon/Pool via REUTERS

By Dan Williams and Stephanie van den Berg

JERUSALEM/THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Israel’s prime minister on Sunday hailed what he called efforts by friendly states to stop the International Criminal Court opening an investigation into alleged war crimes against Palestinians.

The court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in January there was enough evidence for an investigation into reports of more than 200 killings and thousands of injuries. She has asked the court to rule on whether it had the jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories.

Brazil, Hungary, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Australia have asked the court over the past two weeks to let them file “amicus brief” opinions on the case, ICC records show.

Some, including Germany, said they would argue the court’s jurisdiction did not extend to the Palestinian territories.

Brazil said it would argue that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis should be resolved through political dialogue, not a court ruling.

Netanyahu told his cabinet countries had responded to Israeli lobbying over the case.

“We are struggling against this (proceeding) and, at our side, I must say, are many friends around the world (which) joined the U.S. in a steadfast stand alongside Israel.”

The Palestinians were accepted as an ICC member in 2015 after they signed the court’s founding Rome Statute, based on their United Nations “observer state” status.

Israel and the United States, neither of them ICC members, dispute the court’s jurisdiction in the absence of a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza or East Jerusalem.

The Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, representing 57 Muslim states, asked to file a brief, arguing that the Palestinians have sovereignty over the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian Bar Association, the International Commission of Jurists and other legal and human rights organisation have also asked to filed briefs with the court to say it does have jurisdiction in this case.

U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking stalled in 2014. A new U.S. peace plan, unveiled by President Donald Trump last month, envisaged Israel keeping East Jerusalem and swathes of West Bank land, and was rejected by the Palestinians.

Editing by Andrew Heavens

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