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Monday, April 28, 2008

Will Israel join the International Criminal Court?

In 2002, the Bush administration unsigned the Clinton administration's signature on the 1998 Rome Treaty that created the International Criminal Court.
Shortly before the court opened in 2002, the Bush administration "unsigned" the Rome Statute, which President Clinton had approved before leaving office. President Bush subsequently signed legislation authorizing military action, should the court arrest an American, and limiting U.S. dealings with the tribunal.
Clinton had nearly convinced Ehud Barak to sign it. After the US 'unsigned' the treaty, Israel under Ariel Sharon decided not to sign it. Now, the article linked above reports that the US may sign the treaty after all (Hat Tip: Debbie Schlussel).
A senior Bush administration official said Friday that the U.S. now accepts the "reality" of the International Criminal Court, and that Washington would consider aiding the Hague tribunal in its investigation of atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region.

"The U.S. must acknowledge that the ICC enjoys a large body of international support, and that many countries will look to the ICC as the preferred mechanism" for punishing war crimes that individual countries can't or won't address, John Bellinger, the State Department's chief lawyer, told a conference in Chicago marking the 10th anniversary of the tribunal's founding treaty, the Rome Statute. More than 100 countries have ratified the treaty.

Although it reiterated longstanding U.S. concerns about the court, Mr. Bellinger's speech represented a rhetorical turnabout for an administration that came to power determined to hobble the movement for a permanent war crimes tribunal.

"This is a meaty piece of work," said Richard Dicker, international justice director for Human Rights Watch. "It's impossible to imagine such a statement four years ago."
If the US signs the Rome treaty and submits itself to the court's jurisdiction, will Israel follow? I certainly hope not. Here's one reason why:
The 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court can be read to make it a war crime to deprive civilians of "objects indispensable to their survival" (art. 8 (2) (b) (xxv)).
Do we really want to go to court over that issue with respect to Gaza?

Make sure to read Debbie's whole post on the US and the court and to read this article from the American Thinker (from several months ago) to consider some of the potential problems Israel may encounter with its treatment of Hamas in Gaza if we join the court. Even if we're right, if we sign the treaty, we can be dragged in anyway and be told we're wrong. Remember the fence case?

Let's hope that regardless of what the US does, Israel stays out of this.


At 10:55 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Since such a court would dominated by states unfriendly to Israel, it makes no sense for Israel's citizens to be subject to a tribunal that need take no account of Israel's national interests.

Whatever the U.S does decide, Israel would be well advised not to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. It should be a principle Israelis should tried only in their domestic courts.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Yaakov said...

Just another example of the new policies in America since the the Iraq Study Group and the 2006 elections. America will be giving up its sovereignty if it submits to this court. It is a form of national suicide.
Israel would be well served not to follow America's lead, and lose more of its sovereignty and submit to more foreign law and lawyers.


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