Israel must accept ICC notification letters regarding war crimes investigation, says legal expert

Middle East Monitor  /  March 11, 2021

Lawyer Nick Kaufman has stated in an article published by Hebrew newspaper Haaretz that it is in Israel’s best interests to communicate to Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), that she should not send court notification letters regarding the opening of an investigation into war crimes before the formation of a new government has taken place in the country.

According to Kaufman, the reasoning behind this is due to the likelihood that the new government will consider the possibility of conducting a local investigation into the use of excessive force against Palestinians.

Kaufman continued: “It is likely, and indeed desirable, that the new government will seek to reach an agreement with the Palestinians to postpone the investigation on the settlements file in the context of the resumption of peace talks.”

The Israeli legal expert explained: “This procedure is seen as a measure that serves the interests of justice. It may even be welcomed by the ICC prosecutor’s office in The Hague, which has been promoting for many years the so-called positive completion processes, which refer to making use of the threat to open an international investigation to persuade the parties to the armed struggle to lay down their arms.”

Kaufman added: “While balancing considerations, Israel should not miss this opportunity, which stands as an excellent justification for resuming the peace process and moving it forward through cooperating with the Palestinian side.

However, if the ICC notification letter to be sent to Israel is rejected, it will not be surprising that the court will then give indications that the government shall assume responsibility for anything related to transferring the investigation to The Hague.”

It is noteworthy in this context that Israel has rejected the court’s announcement of its intention to open an investigation into alleged crimes committed by the occupation army and its leaders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared his rejection of this measure, considering the decision “anti-Semitic”.