January 18, 2020

Lawyers Submit Arguments That ICC Has No Jurisdiction Over Israeli Settlements

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Lawyers from U.K. 9 Bedford Row law firm, with support from The Lawfare Project and U.K. Lawyers for Israel (UKLI), filed submissions on March 15 that the International Criminal Court (ICC) doesn’t have the jurisdiction to rule on Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria.

According to a press release from Lawfare, 9 Bedford Row lawyers Steven Kay QC and Joshua Kern argued that the ICC’s own legal framework “states that a case is inadmissible where the Court determines that it is has in fact been investigated by the State that has jurisdiction over it.” The Israeli Supreme Court has consistently provided rulings on a “case-by-case basis” regarding Israeli settlements, Kay QC and Kern argue, pointing that there have been instances where the Israeli Supreme Court has deemed Israeli settlements illegal.

“Israel has a functioning, independent, institutional framework which permits investigation of conduct that would be covered by potential settlements cases at the ICC,” Kay QC said in a statement. “Under the core ICC principle of complementarity, prosecutors should accept the validity of decisions taken by Israel’s national courts.”

Brooke Goldstein, Lawfare’s executive director, also said in a statement that any ICC ruling on Israeli settlements “would be yet another attempt at applying double standards to Israel” since they’re ignoring the Israeli Supreme Court’s rulings on the matter.

The United States and Israel are among the countries that do not recognize the ICC’s legitimacy on legal matters. Back in September, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton threatened sanctions against the ICC for investigating the United States for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

“If the court comes after us, Israel or other U.S. allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on March 15 that ICC staff will not be allowed into the U.S. and that further action may be taken against the ICC.

“We are prepared to take additional steps including economic sanctions if the ICC does not change its course,” Pompeo said.