London (23 March 2023) – The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) has called on the UK government to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes committed in Palestine, and to recognise the ICCs jurisdiction with respect to the situation. This follows the UKs decision to lead the joint referral of the situation in Ukraine to the Court, in tandem with a coordinated group of State Parties.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his Foreign Minister Eli Cohen are set to meet with their UK Government counterparts in London this week, to continue discussions on a range of bilateral issues including trade, technology and security, following the signing of the 2030 roadmap for UK-Israel bilateral relations.
The ICJP has today written to the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and the Foreign Secretary James Cleverley, calling on the Government to urgently recognise that the ICC has jurisdiction in respect of the situation in Palestine, and for the UK as an ICC State Party to refer that situation, and Mr Netanyahu’s role as a perpetrator, to the Court, pursuant to Article 14 of the ICC Statute.
The letter refers to previous findings by the ICC Prosecutor that there is a reasonable basis to believe that throughout the 2014 conflict in Gaza, Israeli forces committed a number of war crimes, including the targeting of medical personnel and equipment. The letter also refers to a number of submissions previously made to the ICC by the ICJP, in relation to the targeting of journalists and media infrastructure by Israeli forces, as well as the unlawful destruction of Palestinian homes in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
The ICJP is deeply concerned about the escalation of violence and human rights violations in Palestine. Israel’s recent military operations across the Occupied Palestinian Territory have resulted in the deaths of at least 85 Palestinians since January 2023, according to the Associated Press.
Israel’s continued settlement expansion and the demolition of Palestinian homes and infrastructure in the West Bank and East Jerusalem violates international law and exacerbates the humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Most recently, inflammatory statements made by members of the Israeli government in the aftermath of settler pogroms in the Palestinian village of Huwara have indicated the Israeli governments intention to continue with their pursuit of these extremist policies of dispossession, land seizures, and ethnic cleansing. These extremist policies continue to further and embolden Israels participation in acts which fall within the definition of the crime of apartheid, contrary to articles 7(1)(j) and 7(2)(h) of the ICC Statute.
Commenting, Tayab Ali, ICJP Director & Partner at Bindmans LLP said;
“It is a gross double standard that while the UK Government assists and facilitates international accountability and legal action against the leader of one nation for war crimes, they support and engage in friendly relations with another. Palestinians are entitled to the same rights and protections under international law as those living in any other territory, and it is imperative that the UK Government demonstrates that it supports justice, and accountability for the perpetrators of war crimes in all circumstances – regardless of whether the perpetrators of those war crimes are deemed to be friend or foe.”
The ICJP believes that accountability is essential for ending the cycle of violence and ensuring justice for victims. The UK government has a moral and legal obligation to take action against war crimes committed in Palestine, as a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and a member of the International Criminal Court.
The ICJP urges the UK government to use its influence and diplomatic power to refer Israel to the ICC for its violations of international law in Palestine. This would send a strong message that the UK government stands with the victims of war crimes and supports the rule of law and international human rights standards.
The ICJP is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law. The ICJP is committed to promoting the rule of law and human rights in Palestine and will continue to advocate for accountability and justice for all victims of war crimes in the region.