Israel coordinated US sanctions against ICC with Trump administration - report
Sourcing Israeli officials, Ravid added that the main reasoning for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Israel last month was to accomplish this exactly.
By ZACHARY KEYSER
The Trump administration and Israel coordinated the executive order authorizing US sanctions against International Criminal Court (ICC) employees who launched an investigation into whether US forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan, according to Channel 13 diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid.Sourcing Israeli officials, Ravid added that the main reasoning for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Israel last month was to accomplish this exactly. More so, the exchanges between the two nations regarding to the ICC were kept very close to the chest on both sides, not being mentioned at many briefings before of after Pompeo's visit, presumably to prevent the information from leaking into the wrong hands.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yuval Steinitz, the minister responsible for defending the Israeli side against the ICC, were both present at the meeting in Jerusalem and, according to the report, Steinitz pushed Pompeo to issue sanctions against officials within the international court right then and there.Following Pompeo's visit, the two sides kept in close contact regarding the timing of the move as well as what the sanctions would entail, Ravid reported.Within the White House statement, the US cited anti-Israel bias against the ICC, noting that they are under the impression that a good portion of their investigations are "politically-motivated.""Despite repeated calls by the United States and our allies to reform, the International Criminal Court has taken no action to reform itself and continues to pursue politically-motivated investigations against us and our allies, including Israel," Thursday's White House statement read. "We are concerned that adversary nations are manipulating the International Criminal Court by encouraging these allegations against United States personnel.""Further, we have strong reason to believe there is corruption and misconduct at the highest levels of the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor, calling into question the integrity of its investigation into American service members."AdvertisementICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate possible crimes committed between 2003 and 2014, including alleged mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, as well as the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and, to a lesser extent, by US forces and the CIA. The ICC investigation was given the go-ahead in March.The same prosecutor also wants to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes committed in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. In a larger brief to the pre-trial chambers, Bensouda said she has reason to believe that the IDF committed war crimes in Gaza, particularly during the 2014 war.Noting both sides of the 2014 conflict, she added that there was a "reasonable basis to believe that members of Hamas and Palestinian armed groups (‘PAGs’) committed... war crimes."Additionally, Bensouda plans to examine IDF activity along the Gaza border since the start of the “Great March of Return” in March 2018.And separately, Bensouda wrote that she has reason to believe that the actions of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem can be considered to fall under the war crime of a transfer of civilian population into occupied territory.However, she clarified that she is only examining war crime claims dating back no further than June 13, 2014.In January, Pompeo said that the ICC had unfairly targeted Israel when these statements were made public. In, December he declared that the US position on the matter was that Israeli settlements in the West Bank were legal under international law.Yesterday, he said with regards to the American probe, "we cannot, we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court. I have a message to many close allies in the world. Your people could be next, especially those from NATO countries who fight terrorism in Afghanistan right alongside us."Tovah Lazaroff, Tamar Beeri and Reuters contributed to this report.