Netanyahu: ICC war crimes probe is 'pure antisemitism'

"It decided that our brave and moral soldiers who fight against the cruel terrorists are the terrorists."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen speaking at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Sderot, on January 27, 2021. (photo credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen speaking at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Sderot, on January 27, 2021.
(photo credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/POOL)
 "The biased International Criminal Court in The Hague reached a decision that is pure antisemitism," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday following the ICC's announcement that it is investigating alleged war crimes by both Israel and Hamas. 
"It decided that our brave and moral soldiers who fight against the cruel terrorists are the terrorists," he continued. "It decided that when we build a house in our eternal capital, Jerusalem, it is a war crime."
President Reuven Rivlin called the decision “scandalous” and added that Israel is “proud of its soldiers, our sons and daughters… who keep watch over their land.” 
Rivlin said that “we will all be on guard to ensure they will not be harmed due to this decision.”
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said the ruling is a political attempt by ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to "try and set priorities" for her incoming successor, Karim Khan.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz condemned the decision as "rewarding terrorism."
"It is a decision that undermines the protection of regional stability and human life," Gantz said at an IDF graduation ceremony.
"Israel has strong, independent investigative bodies and some of the highest moral standards in the world. The Palestinians need to internalize the fact that the conflict between us can only be resolved by direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah," he said.
"The courts aren’t the solution, and The Hague certainly isn’t."

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi called the decision “fundamentally void of any authority; taken without authority and out of context.
“We will not allow any foreign and baseless institution to interfere with our work to protect Israel,” he said in an official message to IDF soldiers. 
New Hope head Gideon Sa’ar called the decision "despicable." He said that to investigate the actions of the IDF, “the world’s most ethical military,” which protects Israel, “the most threatened country in the world,” is “morally twisted.”

ATT.-GEN. Avichai Mandelblit commented on the ICC decision, saying that, "as it was said before, the A-G's position is that the ICC has no authority on this matter. This decision has garnered support from many leading nations and legal experts, although the majority judges and the prosecutor in her announcement today elected to ignore many of the heavy legal claims made in this context.
"The decision, as well as the announcement by the prosecutor, acknowledged the fact that many vital issues regarding the ICC's jurisdiction into investigating these matters have remained undecided," he added. "This matter alone teaches us how the decision to investigate Israel is wrong and lacking the strong legal foundation that is required for such an investigation, according to the prosecutor herself."

Yamina head Naftali Bennett called the decision “a farce” meant to “tie Israel’s hands.”
Bennett, who had served as defense minister, vowed that IDF soldiers will continue to defend Israel. 
“No ICC will stop us from doing that,” he said.
Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman slammed the ICC decision as “hypocritical and antisemitic.” 
Calling it “a predetermined game,” he complained that instead of the court looking into the actions of Syrian President Bashar Assad, “the right of Israel to defend itself is being challenged.” 
Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin called the ICC ruling “hypocritical” and said it is “antisemitism in every sense.” 
“While many countries are serial violators of human rights, the court opted to investigate Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” he added.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee pro-Israel lobbying group urged President Joe Biden to maintain the sanctions on ICC officials pursuing what it called "illegitimate, politically motivated investigations into the US and Israel."

The group noted that past Republican and Democratic presidents refused to join the ICC "precisely because they feared the body would be used to launch politically biased cases like this one."
"This investigation is a serious setback for those pursuing a negotiated agreement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," AIPAC said. "As the Arab world normalizes relations with Israel, the Palestinians again show they are more intent on demonizing and attacking Israel than pursuing peace."
Reuters contributed to this report.