Israeli leaders on Sunday threatened to take tougher action against the Palestinians over their decision to join the International Criminal Court, a day after freezing the transfer of about $127 million in tax funds.
Last week’s Palestinian decision to seek membership in the international court has infuriated Israel. The Palestinians have said they intend on using their new membership in the Hague-based tribunal to press war crimes cases against Israel.
Israel was issuing a strong statement over the Palestinian pursuit of membership in the International Criminal Court. CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reported from Tel Aviv.
Israel threatens more punitive steps against PalestiniansIsrael was issuing a strong statement over the Palestinian pursuit of membership in the International Criminal Court. CCTV America's Roee Ruttenberg reported from Tel Aviv.
It was the first meeting for the Israeli cabinet, since Palestinians took steps on Jan. 2nd to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). Israel had warned it would consider the act a “nuclear option,” and on Jan. 4th, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that Israeli soldiers would not face trial at The Hague.
“IDF soldiers will continue to defend the State of Israel with determination and might. Just as they defend us, we will defend them with the commitment,” Netanyahu said.
The ICC was set up nearly 20 years to try anyone for alleged war crimes. More than 120 countries have signed on, but Israel and its biggest backer, the U.S., are not signatories and reject the court’s jurisdiction.
It’s unlikely Israel would ever send its nationals to face ICC judges for their actions, for example, in Gaza, as Palestinians were hoping, but it could expose Israelis traveling in ICC members countries to possible arrest.
Activist Uri Zaki, from the left-leaning opposition Meretz party, blamed Netanyahu exposing Israelis to such vulnerability.
Israel also confirmed on Jan. 4th that it would halt the transfer of more than $100 million in tax revenues to the Palestinian authority, again, in response Palestinian steps towards the ICC.
But Palestinian officials said they would not back down.
“The Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people will never give up on our Palestinian core issues, the right to be free and independent, as well as the right of return as well as a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, in exchange for this money,” Wassel Abu Youssef, the member of Palestine Liberation Organization, said.
They were confident the ICC would accept them, and their complaints.
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The Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat is called the move “daylight robbery.” Last week, he took an interview, as CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reported.
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Fadi Elsalameen at the American Security project discusses the Palestinian ICC bid
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