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European officials condemn political interference in ICC investigation of Israel-Palestine war crimes.

European officials condemn political interference in ICC investigation of Israel-Palestine war crimes.

Fatou Bensouda, the international criminal court’s chief prosecutor, announced the launch of the investigation in March. Photograph: Bas Czerwinski/AP

Amidst the Israel-Palestine violence, the international criminal court (ICC) has ordered a full-scale probe into the alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem, upon the requests of the Palestinian authorities. However, the initiated probe was faced with criticism from top officials, which has urged 55 former European officials to sign an open letter condemning political interference in ICC operations.

The officials, including former prime ministers, foreign ministers and senior international officials, denounced the obstruction of the International Criminal Court's (ICC) investigation of Israeli war crimes in Palestine.

The letter calls out the sanctions imposed upon the court officials by the Trump administration, adding that it had brought serious concern and that attacks on the ICC, its staff and cooperating civil society groups have increased. "Deeply worrying is now the unwarranted public criticism of the court regarding its investigation of alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including unfounded accusations of antisemitism," said the former European officials.

ICC opened a formal investigation in March into alleged violent misconducts in the Palestinian territories, before recent conflicts erupted in occupied East Jerusalem. ICC Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda claimed that the probe into the purported war crimes dating back to June 2014 would be unbiased.

Last month, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson termed the ICC investigation as a partial and prejudicial attack on Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, said that any ICC investigation would be "pure antisemitism".

"Attempts to discredit the court and obstruct its work cannot be tolerated if we are serious about promoting and upholding justice globally," said the open statement.

"It is well established and recognised that accountability for serious rights violations by all sides to a conflict is essential for achieving sustainable and lasting peace. This is the case in Israel-Palestine, just as in Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan, Mali, Bangladesh/Myanmar, Colombia and Ukraine. Where there is no accountability for grave human rights violations, it is the victims seeking justice and people longing for lasting peace who are paying the price," it further said.

The signatories said they believe that the Rome statute guarantees the highest criteria of justice and provides a crucial avenue to address impunity for the world's most serious crimes. "Failure to act would have grave consequences."

"In this context, we stress the importance of all European governments firmly supporting the independence of the ICC and shielding the institution and its staff from any external pressures or threats. That includes refraining from public criticism of the ICC's decisions, which could contribute to undermining the independence of the court and public trust in its authority," the European officials wrote in defending the current ICC investigation on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

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TAGS:European officialsIsrael-Palestine conflict
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