Netanyahu: It's absurd for ICC to put U.S. or Israeli soldiers on trial

The ICC was asked to investigate both US and Israeli forces for possible war crimes: the US for its presence in Afghanistan and Israel for its action in Gaza and West Bank settlement construction.

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April 15, 2019 03:48
4 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during Sunday's cabinet meeting, 2019.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during Sunday's cabinet meeting, 2019.. (photo credit: AMIT SHABI/POOL)

 
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the International Criminal Court’s decision last week to reject a request to investigate US forces for possible war crimes in Afghanistan.

“To come and put on trial US or Israeli soldiers, or the State of Israel or the US, is absurd. It is the opposite of the original goal of the international court,” Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting.

The Hague-based ICC is also weighing whether to accept a suit against Israel filed by the Palestinian Authority for war crimes, both in its actions in Gaza and for West Bank settlement construction.

The UN Human Rights Council has compiled a secret data base of Israeli soldiers and IDF commanders who it believes have committed war crimes in the handling of Palestinian riots along the Gaza border.

Neither the US nor Israel have ratified their signatures to the Rome Statute, under which the ICC operates.

Netanyahu said the court’s decision “was a very important development for the State of Israel and the international community.

“This blocked a move that would have upended the original goal of establishing the international court. It was mainly established after the outrages of the pogroms, genocide and other problems that arose over the years, in order to deal with countries and regions that have no true legal system.”

Netanyahu continued: “They harass the US and Israel, democracies which by the way are not members of the International [Criminal] Court. But, without doubt, we have one of the best legal systems in the world, which is not a given because there are very few of these.”

The ICC’s decision not to pursue US soldiers “corrects an injustice and will have far-reaching implications for the functioning of the international system regarding the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

“I commend the US, President [Donald] Trump and the Trump administration for their strong stand alongside the citizens of Israel and the soldiers of the IDF. As on previous occasions, it has been proven that Israel has no better friend than the US, and we very much appreciate the support in this field as well.”

On Friday, Trump said that the ICC’s decision was a “major international victory, not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law. We welcome this decision and reiterate our position that the United States holds American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards,” he said.

Netanyahu spoke to the cabinet as it convened for the first time since the April 9 Likud victory that has likely tasked Netanyahu with forming a new government.


President Reuven Rivlin will consult with the parties that secured seats in the 21st Knesset, before empowering the prime minister to form a coalition.

Netanyahu thanked the ministers for their work on behalf of the state over the last four years.

“I would like to commend the members of the government on four full years of action and many accomplishments. The accomplishments are very many. This found expression in the public’s decision to renew our mandate as a result of considerable action in all of the fields that are represented around this table – in very clear and successful action by government ministers. We will continue to do so in the next government – and with God’s help, we will do and we will succeed,” Netanyahu said.

He also spoke of the proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that he received from Trump last month in Washington.

Netanyahu finished by speaking of Israel’s failed attempt to land the unmanned, privately-funded Beresheet spacecraft on the Moon.

“Over the weekend, the State of Israel made history. It became one of the seven countries to reach lunar orbit and one of four countries to land on the Moon, although not in the optimal way,” he said. “This is a tremendous achievement for the consortium of SpaceIL, Israel Aerospace Industries and the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu pledged that Israel would launch a second spaceship, named Beresheet II, to the Moon.

“I hope that this time will be successful. In that case, we will indeed be the fourth country to land successfully on the Moon,” he said.

“This proves, first of all, our abilities, our aspirations and the fact that we are not stymied by failures. The difference between winners and losers is that we do not give up.

“We will try again and again until we succeed. I estimate that we will have a better chance of succeeding the second time. According to what I have heard and the mishaps that I saw there, people will evaluate the problem and are also capable of dealing with it.”

Reuters and Maariv contributed to this report.

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