Meretz leader: ICC investigation of Israel is justified

Likud, Yamina, New Hope all denounce left-wing party leader.

The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague March 3, 2011. (photo credit: REUTERS/JERRY LAMPEN/FILE PHOTO)
The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague March 3, 2011.
Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz caused a stir Saturday night after he said that the International Criminal Court’s decision to investigate Israel for war crimes was justified.
Interviewed on Channel 13 News, Horowitz said that he was saddened by the situation but Israel’s ongoing construction in West Bank settlements and the harm it caused to civilians in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 justify the ICC’s intervention.
Horowitz’s comments were swiftly condemned by all the right-wing parties, as well as by Blue and White.
Last week, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced she was opening a full war crimes probe against Israel over its settlement building policy, the 2014 conflict with Hamas in Gaza, its conduct during the 2018 Gaza mass border provocations, and also the behavior of Hamas itself.
Asked during an interview on Channel 13 if the ICC investigation was a “red line” for Meretz, Horowitz said that a red line for his party was that “there are no negotiations with the Palestinians, and that settlements are being built like there’s no tomorrow,” saying that Israel should not be surprised when legal steps are taken against such policies.
“We don’t think the solution is to say the [ICC in the] Hague is antisemitic, but rather to advance negotiations with the Palestinians, to come to a solution. Then there won’t be the Hague or anything else,” said the leader of the left-wing party.
“We think we should cooperate with the court and not attack it, he continued, saying that the decision to open a full investigation was justified.
“I say this with great pain, this decision is correct. I don’t want Israel to be in this situation … but Israel needs to ask itself what it is doing to prevent it.”
Horowitz also backed the ICC’s investigation of Israel’s military operation in Gaza in 2014.
“In Operation Protective Edge we’ve said that things were done which should not have been done. There was such massive damage done to the civilian population that the court wants to check this out,” said the Meretz leader.
Right-wing parties quickly condemned Horowitz’s comments.
“Nitzan Horowitz is abandoning IDF soldiers who protect him and us all,” said the Likud in response to the Meretz leader’s comments. “The decision of the court in the Hague is antisemitic, and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu will fight around the world to have it canceled.”
The Yamina party said that Horowitz was “hurting us from within” and that “IDF soldiers are heroes standing guard day and night to protect Israeli citizens, including Horowitz.”
Senior Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked even went so far as to say on Channel 13 that her party would not join a coalition with Meretz in light of its leader’s comments.
“The court in the Hague is antisemitic and political, it is persecuting IDF soldiers and our politicians, and we will not sit in any coalition with someone who speaks like that,” said Shaked.
Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party described Horowitz’s comments as “wretched” and said “no campaign justifies supporting an antisemitic decision and he should apologize for it.”
Separately, Sa’ar said in an interview on Channel 12 that Netanyahu is “extorted” by the ultra-Orthodox parties since the prime minister only cares about remaining in power.
“The ultra-Orthodox parties force silence,” said Sa’ar in regard to religion and state policies of the Netanyahu government.
Asked if Netanyahu is allowing the ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset to be extortionate, Sa’ar replied “without a doubt ... Since the most important thing to him is to stay in power, he has to give every thing [demanded of him].” Netanyahu, he said, had failed to make a decision on the issue of Jewish conversion which erupted last week with a landmark decision by the High Court of Justice.
The ultra-Orthodox parties strongly oppose any state recognition of the non-Orthodox denominations, but the High Court recognized the legitimacy of their conversions for the purposes of obtaining citizenship under the Law of Return.
During Netanyahu’s 12 consecutive years in power, Sa’ar noted, “he appointed the Nissim committee [on the conversion issue]. It made its recommendation, yet two years have gone by without anyone hearing of it,” said Saar.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who as the IDF chief of staff during Operation Protective Edge is likely to be a subject of the ICC investigation, said on Twitter that Horowitz’s comments had angered him.
“As someone who served for 38  years in the IDF and served as chief of staff I know how the IDF and our soldiers make every effort to prevent harming innocent people,” said Gantz.
“Your comments are very severe and I call on you to retract them,” adding “no political campaign can justify legitimizing the ridiculous decision of the court in the Hague.”