Austria, Lithuania Side with Israel Against ICC

YERUSHALAYIM -
The International Court of Justice.

Criticism of the International Criminal Court’s ruling that it has jurisdiction over alleged war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians has spread to two more European countries.

Austria and Lithuania on Tuesday joined several other countries in Europe and elsewhere siding with Israel that the ICC cannot investigate the matter because the Palestinian Authority is not a state, and as such cannot bring charges in the ICC against Israel.

“Austria’s legal view remains unchanged,” the Foreign Ministry in Vienna stated. “We have expressed our concerns in an amicus curiae [friend of the court] brief to the Court.

“We do not recognize Palestine as a state and we reaffirm that the ICC decision does not change the status of Palestine under international law, nor does it prejudge the question of future borders,” the Austrian Foreign Ministry stated.

Lithuania tweeted: “While supporting the work of the ICC, it is essential to avoid any politicization of the Court, which could diminish its ability to carry out its primary mission,” which is to prosecute cases of genocide where local courts will not.

Earlier this month, the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber ruled that its chief prosecutor can investigate war crimes allegations in Gaza, Yehuda and Shomron and east Yerushalayim committed since June 13, 2014. The investigation includes Operation Protective Edge and Israeli housing construction in Yehuda and Shomron.

An EU spokesman said last week that it “has taken careful note” of the ruling, but did not expressly approve or disapprove it.

Australia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Brazil, Uganda and Canada have already expressed their opposition to an ICC investigation of Israel before the ruling.

The U.S. State Department said at the time of the ICC decision: “We have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel. The United States has always taken the position that the court’s jurisdiction should be reserved for countries that consent to it, or that are referred by the UN Security Council.”

“The United States objects to today’s International Criminal Court decision regarding the Palestinian situation. Israel is not a State Party to the Rome Statute,” tweeted State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

“We will continue to uphold President [Joe] Biden’s strong commitment to Israel and its security, including opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly,” Price said.