Report: New ICC prosecutor might go ahead in suing Israel

Gaza - destruction unleashed by Israel's 2014 military assault (AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  February 15, 2021

The new Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, who was elected on Friday to replace Fatou Bensouda in July, might go ahead and probe potential Israeli crimes in the occupied territories, Al-Wattan Voice reported yesterday.

As a new prosecutor, one of his tasks is to decide the next steps on the probe into war crimes in Afghanistan and those of Israel which were carried out during the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza, as well as the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

However, Israeli website reported that Khan might come under pressure from some member states of the ICC and accept that the ICC does not have jurisdiction to carry out this investigation.

Israeli lawyer Nick Kauffman, who has worked at the Hague and knows Khan, said he is not obliged to carry on the policies of his predecessor if believes there was a legal error.

“If Israel attempted to persuade him to reassess the feasibility of the investigation, mainly regarding settlements, he could reach a diplomatic understanding,” the lawyer said.

The Times of Israel reported Israeli Public Broadcaster Kan saying that though Israel is not a member of the ICC, it had worked from behind the scenes to promote Khan’s election to head the court.

Earlier this month, the ICC ruled that its jurisdiction extends to territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, potentially clearing the way for its chief prosecutor to open a war crimes probe into Israeli military actions against Palestinians.