Palestinian War Crimes Move Against Israel Could Backfire, Says ex-ICC Prosecutor

Former International Criminal Court prosecutor advises Palestinians and Israelis to resolve differences without resorting to the court.

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Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo.Credit: AP

The former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has advised the Palestinians to proceed with caution as they consider pursuing war crimes against Israel.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who is in Israel as a guest of the Fried-Gal Transitional Justice Initiative at the Hebrew University Law School, said on Wednesday that while the Palestinians are eligible to join the court, the move could backfire against them. He was speaking at the group's annual colloquium.

Since winning upgraded status at the United Nations in 2012, the Palestinians have threatened to turn to the ICC to press charges against Israel at the world's first permanent war crimes court if peace efforts fail. The latest round of talks broke down last month.

Moreno-Ocampo, in his first visit to Israel, stressed that Gaza's Hamas rulers also could be investigated for rocket fire and suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, if the Palestinians put themselves under the court's jurisdiction. .

The former prosecutor and current Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University, recommended that Israel and the Palestinians avoid the court and find a "creative" way to resolve their differences. He refused to speculate whether war crimes have been committed by either side.

Moreno-Ocampo was elected as the first ICC prosecutor in 2003 and served in that position until mid-2012.

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