On Friday, an international group of pro-Israel lawyers submitted formal evidence that challenges the infamously anti-Israel International Criminal Court’s (ICC) jurisdiction over Israeli “settlements” in the historical Jewish homeland of Judea and Samara — otherwise frequently referred to as the “West Bank.” Despite much of the “international community” settling on an alternative viewpoint, the most straightforward application of longstanding principles of international law is that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is entirely lawful.
Here is an excerpt of the press release from the pro-Israel group The Lawfare Project:
Top lawyers specializing in cases before the International Criminal Court (ICC) have filed a submission questioning the admissibility of cases regarding Israeli settlements. Steven Kay QC and Joshua Kern of 9 Bedford Row chambers in London made the submission with support from The Lawfare Project and UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI). An article regarding the submission is available here.
The submission emphasizes that the Israeli Supreme Court (sitting as the High Court of Justice) plays an active role ruling on matters relating to Israeli settlements. Because Israel’s own courts already rule on the issue and have issued several landmark rulings on settlements in the past, such cases are not admissible before the ICC. That is because — according to the core principle of “complementarity” under the Rome Statute, which governs the ICC — the ICC is not supposed to rule on issues where there are genuine proceedings before national courts. …
According to the press release, Stephen Kay QC of 9 Bedford Row, who filed the submission, said:
“Israel has a functioning, independent, institutional framework which permits investigation of conduct that would be covered by potential settlements cases at the ICC. Under the core ICC principle of complementarity, prosecutors should accept the validity of decisions taken by Israel’s national courts. If they are not prepared to do that, then the burden of proof will be on them to say why.”
And Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, which independently supported the submission, said:
“An ICC case on ‘settlements’ would totally ignore the fact that Israel’s courts have frequently ruled and continue to rule on these issues. It would be yet another attempt at applying double standards to Israel. Double standards inspire a lack of trust in the international legal system and undermine the sanctity of international law. The Lawfare Project is proud to support this fresh legal approach to challenging lawfare attempts at circumventing the rule of law.”
As Kay concluded in a complementary article released yesterday: “Where there is a dispute which engages individual petitioners’ rights under international humanitarian, human rights, and national administrative law, affected communities have a right of civil and public law redress in Israel. These are principally public law and land law related disputes and the civil courts are the appropriate forum to investigate and determine them prior to a criminal investigation.”
The United States is not a party to the previously referenced Rome Statute, which established the ICC in 2002. Over 120 countries presently are members of the ICC. Conservatives have long been critical of the ICC, in accordance with a general belief that a delegation of jurisdiction over criminal matters to an unaccountable transnational body is at fundamental loggerheads with rudimentary principles of republican self-governance — to say nothing of the Supremacy Clause of Art. VI of the U.S. Constitution itself.