Israel Lobbies for ICC Funding Cut

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

Israel is lobbying member-states of the International Criminal Court to cut funding for the tribunal in response to its launch of an inquiry on Friday into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, officials said on Sunday.

ICC prosecutors said on Friday they would examine “in full independence and impartiality” crimes that may have occurred since June 13 last year, a mandate for probing Operation Protective Edge.

The decision came after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, despite strong opposition from Israel and the United States, requested ICC membership, which comes into effect on April 1.

“We will demand of our friends in Canada, in Australia and in Germany simply to stop funding it,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio on Sunday.

“This body represents no one. It is a political body,” he said. “There are quite a few countries — I’ve already taken telephone calls about this — that also think there is no justification for this body’s existence.”

He said he would raise the matter with visiting Canadian counterpart John Baird on Sunday.

Another Israeli official told Reuters that a similar request was sent to Germany, traditionally one of the court’s strongest supporters, and would also be made to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is separately visiting Yerushalayim and whose nation is the largest contributor to the ICC.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denounced the move as “the height of hypocrisy and the opposite of justice,” and vowed to “fight it every way possible…We will not allow IDF soldiers to face international tribunals.”