(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Foreign Ministry is weighing various initiatives regarding Iran, but has not adopted a private effort to try to take Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Foreign Ministry officials said Tuesday.
The officials were responding to a meeting opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu held Tuesday with more than 50 ambassadors and diplomats where he expressed support for the initiative.
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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs head Dore Gold and Likud MK Dan Naveh are behind efforts to put Ahmadinejad on trial for violating the anti-incitement clauses of the UN's 1948 Genocide Convention.
Article 3 defines "direct and public incitement to commit genocide" as a punishable act.
So far the Foreign Ministry has not taken up the initiative in the UN, neither asking the UN Security Council to deal with the issue - a prerequisite for the issue to be taken to the ICJ - nor lobbying other countries to do the same.
Foreign ministry officials, explaining they did not want to give the Iranians advanced warning of their intentions, would not say whether the ministry would take up the initiative in the near future.
Gold said the best way for an issue to be taken to the ICJ was for a state, or a group of states, to ask for a discussion on the matter in the UN Security Council. If, as is likely, the Security Council didn't reach a conclusive result on the matter, and Iran disputed the issue, it would be sent to The Hague.
Gold said that private individuals and NGOs cannot take issues to the court, and only have recourse to the International Criminal Court.
That court is problematic for Israel - it has stipulated that settlements are tantamount to war crimes - and Israel is not a signatory to the Rome Statue upon which it is based.
Netanyahu warned the diplomats on Tuesday not to allow Ahmadinejad to acquire nuclear weapons or to use them to commit another Holocaust.
In a briefing at Tel Aviv's Carlton Hotel, Netanyahu told them that while Adolf Hitler first sought world conquest and then nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad was doing the same in the opposite order.
"Iran is a danger to the entire world, because it envisions a 1,000-year Islamic Reich based on nuclear weapons, which will be used," Netanyahu said. "The international community can remain inactive and repeat the tragedies of the 1930s or it can take action to prevent this from happening."
Speaking in western Iran Tuesday, Ahmadinejad said, "A nation whose youth have been able to achieve the nuclear fuel cycle with empty hands - rest assured that it will be able to capture other peaks of [progress]."
In Tel Aviv, Netanyahu also called upon the diplomats to persuade their governments to back economic sanctions on Iran in the UN Security Council.
"The bigger the stick, the less likely it is to be used," he said. The idea that Iran "will acquire weapons in three years should trouble all of us, but 1,000 days is enough time to stop Iran.
"We can and must stop Iran. Act while there's time. Don't sit back," he said.
"Ahmadinejad's racist statements of incitement about genocide constitute a flagrant violation of international law," Gold told the diplomats. "The international community failed to prevent the atrocities in Rwanda and Bosnia and it is failing in Darfur. This is the last opportunity for the international community to fulfill its obligations."
Gold and Naveh met recently on the issue in New York with the outgoing US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler and Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz to drum up support.
Gold said that Cotler, who prosecuted Rwandans in Canada on the basis of the Genocide Convention, described Ahmadinejad's statements as the most compelling violation of the clause that he had ever seen.
Gold said Ahmadinejad's statements constituted an "unquestionable violation" of the Geneva Convention, and that the purpose of Tuesday's meeting was to make the various states aware of his violations of the Geneva Convention and to support the initiative to take him to the ICJ.
"Our purpose is to arouse elite public opinion," he said.
Naveh, during the meeting with the diplomats, added a personal note when he spoke about his mother, who survived Bergen-Belsen, and his father, whose family moved to Israel despite family friends who mocked him for taking Hitler's threats seriously.
AP contributed to this report.