“We are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty (…) to areas of the West Bank,” a US State Department spokesperson said.
(April 29, 2020) — Expanding on remarks made last week by United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said annexation was “an Israeli decision,” the US State Department confirmed Monday that it was prepared to recognize Israel’s annexation of much of the illegally occupied West Bank.
“As we have made consistently clear, we are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the vision foresees as being part of the State of Israel,” a US State Department spokesperson said.
The step would be “in the context of the Government of Israel agreeing to negotiate with the Palestinians along the lines set forth in President Trump’s Vision,” the official said.
These comments come after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he was confident the US would give Israel the approval within some weeks to move ahead with the de facto annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu, who has sealed a power-sharing agreement with former rival Benny Gantz, will remain in office for now and has vowed to go ahead with annexations on the condition of Washington’s greenlight.
US President Donald Trump — a close ally to Netanyahu — has been enforcing pro-Israel policies for the past three years.
The White House has moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights, and already declared that West Bank settlements are not illegal.
Trump unveiled in January a so-called “deal of the century” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The plan would let Israel impose sovereignty all the way to Jordan while Palestinians would be granted a sovereign but disjointed and demilitarised entity along with promises of major investment. The Palestinian state’s capital would be on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the disputed city that would remain fully under Israeli sovereignty.
The annexation of occupied territory is illegal under international law, and Palestinians along with the United Nations (U.N.) and the European Union (EU) have rejected Trump’s proposal and Israel’s plans to annex its illegal settlements.
But because of Israel’s increase in settlement building and its efforts to consolidate control over Palestinian lands, Some Palestinians are starting to believe that the two-state solution has become a distant dream.
Some argue that current circumstances make a one-state solution with equal rights for both Israeli and Palestinian citizens the only realistic option.
The Arab League is planning to hold a virtual meeting this week to discuss the annexation plan.
“Threats against family members of ICC staff who are seeking justice is a new low, even for this administration.” — Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director Daniel Balson
(March 18, 2020) — Amnesty International condemned Wednesday United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments threatening the International Criminal Court (ICC) ‘s staff and their family members for investigating alleged war crimes committed by the US in Afghanistan.
“Threats against family members of ICC staff who are seeking justice is a new low, even for this administration,” said Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director Daniel Balson.
The court had announced at the beginning of this month that a probe into alleged US crimes could resume after the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber previously halted it. The news infuriated the Trump administration, which had been attempting to quash the investigation.
“We oppose any effort by the ICC to exercise jurisdiction over US personnel,” Pompeo told reporters. “We will not tolerate its inappropriate and unjust attempts to investigate or prosecute Americans.”
The secretary of state then suggested that retaliatory actions would be taken.
“We want to identify those responsible for this partisan investigation and their family members who may want to travel to the United States or engage in activity that’s inconsistent with making sure we protect Americans,” he said.
Balson said the Trump administration was proving it was not interested in achieving justice.
The fact that Pompeo is mentioning retaliation on families of ICC staff “is an ominous move,” said Balson.
“If there remained any doubt that the Trump administration’s hostility towards the court is fundamentally punitive and callous in nature,” he added, “these doubts have now been dispelled.”
“Instead of pursuing the torturers, the US is condemning the investigators and even their families.”
The ICC started its functions in 2002 to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. The US, as well as Israel, have refused to sign up to the court.
Brazil, Hungary, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Australia — all Israeli allies — applied to file legal opinions to the ICC against the Palestinian case.
(February 18 2020) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Sunday “efforts” by friendly states to block the International Criminal Court (ICC) from launching an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by his country against the Palestinians in their occupied territories.
Netanyahu told his cabinet that countries had responded to Israeli lobbying over the launching of the investigation.
“We are struggling against this [proceeding] and, at our side, I must say, are many friends around the world [which] joined the US [United States] in a steadfast stand alongside Israel.”
Despite Israel and the US, not being members of the ICC, both countries are now allowing themselves to dispute the court’s jurisdiction, arguing a Palestinian state does not exist.
ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced last year in December the existence of “a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation,” and added that the probe would be carried out in occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the besieged Gaza Strip.
Bensouda also declared that Israeli settlements in Palestinian lands may constitute a war crime.
But, according to ICC records, Brazil, Hungary, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Australia -all Israeli allies- applied to file legal opinions to the court over the case.
Germany said it would posit that the court has no jurisdiction to probe possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories because Palestine is not considered a state and Brazil said it would argue it’s not the court’s role to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which should be resolved through political negotiations.
Fifty-seven Muslim states represented by the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) asked to file a legal brief, arguing that the Palestinians have sovereignty over the Palestinian territories.
The Palestinian Bar Association, the International Commission of Jurists and other legal and human rights organization have also asked to file briefs with the court to say it does have jurisdiction in this case.
The Palestinians signed the ICC’s founding Rome Statute in 2015 and were then accepted as a member of the court, on the base of their United Nations “observer state” status.
The court’s move to start an investigation followed a request they made in May 2018, urging it “to investigate […] past, ongoing and future crimes committed in all parts of the territory of the State of Palestine.”
A probe could result in charges against individuals, as states cannot be prosecuted.
The ICC started its functions in 2002 to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.
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