Israel brushes off Jordanian petition

Opponents of Hashemite Kingdom reportedly plan to file petition to ICC for actions during Cast Lead.

jordanian parliament 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
jordanian parliament 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Diplomatic officials on Tuesday brushed off plans by Jordanian parliamentarians to file a lawsuit against Israel in the International Criminal Court in The Hague for alleged war crimes stemming from Operation Cast Lead. "The lawsuit is legally ludicrous and laughable," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. "It doesn't hold water; they don't have any evidence. There was no investigation. It is all based on prejudice and rumors and propaganda, and on bad faith. It will go nowhere." The head of the Jordanian parliament's law committee, Mubarak Abu Yamin, reportedly went to The Hague earlier in the week to file the lawsuit. Among those named as respondents were Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. Dichter angrily responded to the reports, telling Ynet that "there is no greater hypocrisy than a country that just 39 years ago, during Black September in 1970, murdered 10,000 of its Palestinian residents - dealing with international crimes today. Jordan will not be the one to teach Israel what combat morals are." Israeli officials stressed that the lawsuit was coming from parliamentarians and not the Jordanian government. The officials said the Jordanian parliament was controlled by the opposition, and was fiercely nationalist. Nevertheless, Dichter said it was incumbent on the Jordanian government to nip the move in the bud. "We have learned that things that start with a soft voice can end with a lot of noise. The very fact that this type of thing is starting from Jordan toward The Hague is something that has to worry us as a state, not just as individuals," he said. But Dichter also emphasized that Israel would not be left without recourse. "Nobody will abuse us as if we're orphans," he said. "We're a strong enough, big enough family to get over this." "The problem isn't Jordan, but in Europe," he added, citing the example of the pending investigation opened in Spain against Israeli political and military leaders. Diplomatic officials said that although there have been numerous threats of lawsuits against Israeli politicians and IDF officers both in The Hague and elsewhere since the end of Operation Cast Lead, nothing "concrete" had yet transpired. Israel was not preparing a defense to the Jordanian parliamentarian lawsuit, the officials said, because of a near-certainty that it would be thrown out of the International Criminal Court. Israel, along with the United States, China and Russia, did not sign on to the 1998 Rome Accord upon which the ICC is based. As a non-member, Israel's citizens cannot be brought before the ICC unless the UN Security Council votes in favor - an unlikely scenario, as both the United States and European countries such as France and Germany are likely to use their veto power should such a vote be brought forward. Individual suits and arrest warrants filed in EU member states are much more troublesome for Israelis, as laws in member states such as the United Kingdom allow for situations in which citizens or groups can file private criminal suits against figures. In that situation, should a magistrate agree to issue an arrest warrant, Israeli political figures could be arrested in any EU treaty state.