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EU must support investigation into Israel war crimes

Left MEPs have welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a formal investigation into war crimes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The situation in Palestine was referred to the ICC for investigation in June 2014. The Court has since been under intense pressure from Israel and its allies in the West to drop the case.

The Trump administration – on behalf of Israel – imposed sanctions against the ICC Chief Prosecutor and members of her office. President Biden seems committed to continue with Trump’s belligerency against the Court.

Manu Pineda, Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Palestine (DPAL), urged the EU to spare no effort to defend the integrity of the investigation in face of the Israel and US attacks against the Court:

“It’s about time that the ICC investigates Israel’s crimes against Palestinians, putting an end to the impunity that has pervaded for decades and that has allowed Israel to violate international law without consequence.

“As the legal maxim goes, justice delayed is justice denied. Palestinian victims deserve a swift investigation, free from outside interference. Those responsible, the political leaders and military generals, must stand trial and be prosecuted.

“Israel and the US will do all they can to discredit the Court. As signatories of the Rome Statute, EU member states are legally-bound to cooperate with the investigation. I am deeply concerned about reports that some governments have agreed to tip Israel off ahead of arrest warrants being issued.

“We are also aware of death threats against human rights defenders based in the Hague involved with the case. The EU must do all it can to protect witnesses and civil society submitting information to the Court, both in the EU and in Israel/Palestine, warning the Israeli government against rogue behaviour.

“Defending the ICC as an institution, and allowing this investigation to proceed unhindered, is essential not only to deliver justice for Palestinians but for justice wherever the Court operates. I urge the incoming Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan to adhere to his mandate at the highest level of ethics and impartiality,” Pineda concluded.

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