ICC ruling on jurisdiction in Palestinian Territories

  • IASbaba
  • February 17, 2021
  • 0
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  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests 
  • GS-2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. 

ICC ruling on jurisdiction in Palestinian Territories

Context: The International Criminal Court(ICC) said that the court has jurisdiction over war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, a ruling that was welcomed by Palestinians and criticized by Israel.

About ICC

  • Governed by an international treaty called ‘The Rome Statute’, 2002 the ICC is the world’s first permanent international criminal court.
  • It investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.
  • Through international criminal justice, ICC aims to hold those responsible for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again.
  • The ICC is intended to complement, not to replace, national criminal systems; it prosecutes cases only when States do not are unwilling or unable to do so genuinely.
  • ICC is not a UN organization but is has a cooperation agreement with the United Nations.
  • When a situation is not within the Court’s jurisdiction, the United Nations Security Council can refer the situation to the ICC granting it jurisdiction. This has been done in the situations in Darfur (Sudan) and Libya.
  • India is not a party to Rome Statute along with US and China.

What is the present judgment all about?

  • This ruling was really a result of the Palestinian Authority gaining formal membership of international criminal court in 2015. Israel is not a member of the ICC. 
  • According to this ruling, the ICC would have jurisdiction to investigate potential war crimes committed in Palestinian territories. 
  • The Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem
  • The judges however said the jurisdiction does not “imply any attempt to determine Palestinian statehood, which is uncertain, or national borders.”

Response to the ruling

  • Israel: It denounced the ruling saying that the ICC was investigating Israel for “fake war crimes”, calling it “pure anti-Semitism”. 
  • US: It also objected to the ICC’s decision
  • Palestine: Palestine welcome the ruling and said it was an “historic day” and that Israel had previously been treated “above the law.”

Significance of the ruling

  • This is a significant step forward in the quest for justice and accountability involving the unaccountable 53-year-old occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza
  • The ruling could lead to criminal investigations of Israel and Palestinian militant groups including Hamas.

What is India’s stance?

  • Israel has been pushing India to take a stand against the ICC ruling, but Delhi is reluctant to do so given its own geopolitical interests (doesn’t want to antagonise Islamic States)
  • India has conveyed to Israel through diplomatic channels that since India is not a member of the Rome Statute, it would not want to comment or take a position on any of the court’s decisions or rulings.

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