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Bipartisan Letters Urge Pompeo To Call For Halt to ICC Investigations of U.S., Israel

(May 13, 2020)

A bipartisan group of 69 senators and 262 House members sent a letter on May 13, 2020, to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging him to call on the International Criminal Court to halt its “politically motivated” investigations of Israel and the United States.


Senate Letter

May 13, 2020

The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20230

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We urge you to continue your vigorous support of Israel as it faces the growing possibility of investigations and prosecutions by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Neither the United States nor Israel are members of the ICC. ICC actions currently underway could lead to the prosecution of Israeli nationals despite the fact the ICC does not enjoy legitimate jurisdiction in this case. Both Democratic and Republican administrations have refused to join the Court in part because they feared its politicization and misuse.

While we support the ICC’s stated goal of ensuring accountability for the gravest crimes of concern to the international community, we are concerned that the Court’s recent actions regarding the “Situation in Palestine” have infused politics into the judicial process. Specifically, we are troubled by Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s December 20, 2019 announcement that, following a five-year preliminary examination of the situation, she established “a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation” into crimes by Israelis and Palestinians. Prosecutor Bensouda also seeks a ruling by the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber to confirm whether the Court has jurisdiction over territories such as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

\We believe the Prosecutor’s decision to investigate the Israeli-Palestinian situation and request to the Pre-Trial Chamber to determine the Court’s jurisdiction over disputed territories constitutes a dangerous politicization of the Court and distorts the purposes for which the court was established. As the world’s only permanent international court, the ICC is intended as a court of last resort for the prosecution of the most serious international crimes. The ICC can only consider allegations brought to it by states, yet “Palestine” does not meet the criteria to qualify for that designation. The ICC has never formally investigated any accusations within disputed territories; doing so now unfairly targets Israel. Additionally, ICC rules prohibit it from prosecuting cases against a country that has a robust judicial system willing and able to prosecute war crimes of its personnel. Therefore, the ICC’s mandate should not supersede Israel’s robust judicial system, including its military justice system.

By accepting Palestinian territorial claims over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, the Prosecutor is making a political judgment that biases any subsequent investigation or trial. Contrary to Prosecutor Bensouda’s request to the Pre-Trial Chamber, the ICC does not have a mandate to determine whether the relevant territories are part of the State of Israel or occupied Palestinian lands. Establishing the boundaries of any future Palestinian state is a political decision that must be determined through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Any ICC determination regarding its jurisdiction over the disputed territories or investigation of Israel
would further hinder the path to peace. Moreover, politicizing the Court in this way could further weaken and undermine the ICC.

Accordingly, we believe that the United States should stand in full force against any biased investigation of Israel. We ask that you give this matter your full attention and offer the State Department’s support for Israel.


Click  here to enlarge and see signatures.

House Letter

May 13, 2020

The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20230

Dear Mr. Secretary:

In light of the recent International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to authorize the formal investigation of American military personnel for war crimes, we write to you with strong concern about potential consequences for the United States and our ally, Israel, should prosecutions result.

As the world’s only permanent international court, the ICC is intended as a court of last resort for the prosecution of the most serious international crimes, yet both Democratic and Republican administrations have refused to join the Court in part because they feared its politicization and misuse. While we support the ICC’s stated goal of ensuring accountability for the gravest crimes of concern to the international community, the Court’s recent announcements are examples of how politics have been infused into the judicial process and distorted the purposes for which the court was established.

The ICC is proceeding with its investigation of the United States and is considering a similar decision with respect to Israel even though neither the United States nor Israel are members of the ICC. The ICC does not enjoy legitimate jurisdiction in these cases. One of the main principles of the ICC is that, first and foremost, individual states should try cases within their jurisdiction while the ICC serves as a complementary institution which does not substitute its decisions for those of individual nations. In instances when war crimes are committed, we believe our nation and Israel are both able and willing to carry out investigations and prosecute offenders without ICC involvement.

With respect to the possible case against Israel, we are concerned that those pressing for action seek a court judgment in place of a negotiation process between Israelis and Palestinians. The ultimate sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian direct negotiations in pursuit of a two-state solution—not in the pursuit of cases at the ICC. These cases distract from and undermine our efforts to get the parties back to the table.

We urge you to marshal a diplomatic initiative with likeminded countries who are members of the ICC to call on the ICC to cease its politically motivated investigations into the United States and Israel. We look forward to working together to ensure the safety of Americans and Israelis while also encouraging accountability and justice.

Click  here to enlarge and see signatures.