Rivlin calls on France to oppose the ICC decision ahead of visit

"The decision by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for possible war crimes is a dreadful misapplication of international law," Israel's president wrote.

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as he arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 23, 2019. (photo credit: PHILIPPE WOJAZER / REUTERS)
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as he arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 23, 2019.
(photo credit: PHILIPPE WOJAZER / REUTERS)
Ahead of his visit to France and a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday as part of his diplomatic missions in Europe, President Reuven Rivlin called on France to oppose the decision of the International Criminal Court to initiate investigations against IDF soldiers, in an op-ed column published today in Le Figaro
“When I meet President Macron today, we will do so not only as friends, but also as heads of states who enjoy excellent, deeply-rooted bilateral relations," wrote Rivlin, saying that the strong relationship between the two countries will allow both presidents to discuss this "concerning" matter as friends, meaning that they will be both "committed to hearing each other in order to better understand each other’s perspectives, motivations and decisions."
"Our countries cooperate on a wide range of issues, including security, counter-terrorism, science and technology, culture and academic exchanges," Rivlin wrote. "France and Israel also share the values which guide us and the democratic world as a whole: freedom, equality, justice, pluralism and tolerance.
"The decision by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court [ICC] to investigate Israel for possible war crimes is a dreadful misapplication of international law," Israel's President wrote in his op-ed, adding that "A court established to deal with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community is being used a political weapon. It is a morally and legally bankrupt decision."
Rivlin also recalled the Jewish role in the establishment of legal institutions, after the horrors of the Second World War, including the International Criminal Court itself.
"We are deeply committed to the theory and the practice of ensuring that war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity are never allowed to go unpunished because domestic legal systems are unwilling or unable to prosecute individuals responsible for them."
The president emphasized the importance of international law to the State of Israel and the misuse of it by the ICC, stressing that Israel will stand by IDF soldiers – "our children and grandchildren, our neighbors and friends" – who protected its people when asked to do so.
"At the same time," Rivlin added, "we will hold ourselves to the highest standards of international law, even when that requires the most painful decisions."

Rivlin also stressed that international law should not be politicized, as this ICC decision seems to be. "We have seen the damage that has been caused to other international bodies, such as the UN’s Human Rights Council, by those who seek only to harness them for political gain," he said.

"Those who sacrifice human rights for political gain will do the same to international law. We must be vigilant and united in stopping them."
At the end of the article, the president considers the damage that the ICC’s decision is likely to have on the chances of resuming negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. "Until the Court concludes its investigation, which could take several years, it is hard to see the two sides engaging in serious negotiations," Rivlin wrote.
Recalling the recent agreements signed between Israel and Arab countries as part of the Abraham Accords, Rivlin said the ICC decision is an act of perverse logic – and that one of its consequences could be that it will make it even harder for Israelis and Palestinians to find common ground.

"I call on friends of Israel and the Palestinians, in France and beyond, to state clearly, once and for all, that the road to peace runs directly between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Detours via the ICC in the Hague and the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva are counterproductive to the cause of peace and undermine the chances of an agreement between us,” Rivlin concluded.