Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked United States legislators to assist Israel in fending off charges that Israel committed war crimes during its month-long operation in Gaza, the New York Post reported on Wednesday.
“The prime minister asked us to work together to ensure that this strategy of going to the International Criminal Court does not succeed,” Democratic congressman Steve Israel told the Post by phone from Tel Aviv.
Israel was one of a group of American lawmakers who met with Netanyahu in Israel on Wednesday.
Palestinian leaders met with ICC officials in The Hague this week, preparatory to making a formal application to join the international tribunal.
"Everything that has happened in the last 28 days is clear evidence of war crimes committed by Israel, amounting to crimes against humanity," Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said after the meeting.
"There is no difficulty for us to show or build the case. Evidence is there for people to see and collect. Israel is in clear violation of international law."
Congressman Israel told the Post that Netanyahu “wants the U.S. to use all the tools that we have at our disposal to, number one, make sure the world knows that war crimes were not committed by Israel, they were committed by Hamas. And that Israel should not be held do a double standard.”
Netanyahu defended Israel's conduct of the war during a press conference on Wednesday, calling it both "justified" and "proportional."
"Israel deeply regrets every civilian casualty," he said. "We do not target them … The tragedy of Gaza is that it is ruled by Hamas. They want civilian casualties; they use them as PR fodder.
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