Israeli Transportation Minister MK Bezalel Smotrich responded Saturday evening to International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's statement accusing Israel of war crimes against the Palestinians, calling to "dismantle the Palestinian Authority" if it does not pull its petition within 48 hours.
The ICC prosecutor's statement, claiming that "war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip" sparked national outrage, with Israeli lawmakers from across the political spectrum responding to the allegations.
"Everyone knows that the ICC is a political, antisemitic institution," said Transportation Minister MK Bezalel Smotrich. Smotrich called upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "give the Palestinian Authority a 48-hour ultimatum, and [if it does not] pull the charges – dismantle it immediately."
"The advantages of the PA's existence are not, [and have not been for a long time,] worth the diplomatic damage it causes us," Smotrich said. "Destroy Khan el-Ahmar tomorrow morning; destroy an illegal Arab [or] European outpost every day."
"Just like in war, which it is, make all sides pay a heavy price. The following year you will be backed by the United States, and that would be just enough."
“The hard truth is there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace. This is a complex political problem that can only be solved by negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
Bensouda disregarded Israel’s arguments the court did not have jurisdiction in the case, since the Palestinian territories do not constitute a state, and wrote, “There are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.”
December 20 will likely go down as the day when the Palestinian Authority, which brought the case to the ICC five years ago, won its biggest victory, and also the day when the ICC – already a body whose legitimacy is questioned – will begin a decline into irrelevance.
The UN Human Rights Commission, which later morphed into the UN Human Rights Council, once held out great promise, but is now widely seen as a completely politicized body void of any moral relevance. One key reason: the way it was hijacked by the Palestinians to their cause, and into the campaign to delegitimize and demonize Israel.
The ICC in the Hague seems now headed in the same direction, even though Bensouda tried to present a sense of fair-play by saying the court would investigate possible war crimes committed by Hamas and “Palestinian armed groups.” That’s little more than a fig leaf – evidenced by the fact that the PA warmly applauded the prosecutor’s recommendation.
For years, the Palestinians have used the ICC as cudgel over Israel, threatening to go the court as means of placing leverage on Israel to get concessions.
There is no doubt the ICC prosecutor’s recommendation is very problematic for Israel and it will make Jerusalem squirm; There is no doubt if the process continues and Israel is convicted of war crimes, it will create a huge headache for Israel’s political and military leaders who are implicated.
But there is also no doubt that Israel is not just going to roll over and gently accept this. It will fight it and try to get the court not to continue the process. And in doing this, it will launch a variety of different campaigns, from waging a full-throttle public and diplomatic campaign against the legitimacy of the court and accusing it of just being the newest international organization to be hijacked by the Palestinians, to trying to enlist powerful friends and allies to its side.