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Pompeo warns ICC of ‘consequences’ over potential war crimes probe into Israel

The US and Israel aren't party to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2020

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of 'consequences' if the ICC moves forward with a potential war crimes probe into Israel.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday has warned that the US will "exact consequences" if the International Criminal Court (ICC) moves ahead with a potential war crimes probe into Israel.

Late last year, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced after a five-year preliminary investigation that there were reasonable grounds to believe war crimes had been committed by Israeli forces in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Before launching an investigation into war crimes in the Palestinian territories, Bensouda had asked the Hague-based court's pre-trial chamber to confirm whether the ICC has jurisdiction over alleged offences committed there.

In a critical statement, Pompeo has called the ICC's investigations "illegitimate" and deemed the international tribunal a "political body, not a judicial institution".

"A court that attempts to exercise its power outside its jurisdiction is a political tool that makes a mockery of the law and due process," the statement reads.

Pompeo's statement comes two days after his trip to Israel for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the country's plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

The US and Israel have previously complained that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over Israel and Palestine, maintaining that Israel is being "targeted unfairly" and that Palestine does not qualify as a state.

The US and Israel are not party to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC. Palestine is a state party to the treaty, a status staunchly opposed by both the US and Israel.

Seven countries party to the treaty - Canada, Germany, Austria, Australia, Hungary, Brazil, the Czech Republic and Uganda - have disputed the ICC's jurisdiction to investigate Israel over claims that Palestine does not qualify as a state.

US President Donald Trump's administration maintains a tense relationship with the ICC, having previously revoked Bensouda's visa when she intended on investigating potential war crimes by US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Bensouda previously affirmed negative speculations surrounding the probe will not influence the ICC's work, stating the Palestine case will be conducted with "utmost professionalism, independence and objectivity in strict conformity with the Rome Statute".

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