Meretz Leader Draws Ire for Backing ICC Probe of Possible Israeli War Crimes

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Nitzan Horowitz at a Meretz rally for the upcoming election
Nitzan Horowitz at a Meretz rally for the upcoming electionCredit: Amir Levy
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The chairman of the New Hope party, Gideon Sa’ar, and Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked ruled out forming a coalition with Meretz on Sunday after the party's chairman Nitzan Horowitz expressed support for International Criminal Court's looming investigation against Israel for war crimes, revealing fractures in the anti-Netanyahu bloc ahead of the March 23 election.

“The things he said were very serious,” Sa’ar said at the Keshet 12 Influencers Conference.

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“Nitzan Horowitz will not be able to join the government according to these positions. Because a government I will head will fight this decision of the ICC in The Hague to the finish...anyone who joins the government will have to fall into line," he added. 

New Hope, according to Sa'ar, would therefore not sit in a government with Meretz, he answered: “The government’s position will be clear and anyone who doesn’t accept it won’t be part of it."

"It’s not for no reason that Meretz was not in a coalition for 20 years...with views like that, you will fall under the electoral threshold,” Sa'ar said, referring to the most recent opinion polls by Kan’s Channel 11 and Channel 12, which found that Meretz did not win enough votes to pass the voter threshold.

MK Ayelet Shaked of the right-wing Yamina party also said on Sunday that the party would not sit in a government with Meretz, and described Horowitz’s remarks as "shameful."

In an interview with Channel 13’s Ayala Hasson, Shaked said: “In a certain way, he justified what the court in The Hague is doing. The court is anti-Semitic, political. It persecutes IDF soldiers and politicians.” When Hasson asked how Yamina would be able to sit with Meretz in the same government, Shaked responded: “We won’t be with him. Whoever speaks like that won’t be in any coalition with us.”

On Sunday, on a Channel 13 public affairs program headed by Ayala Hasson, Horowitz lay responsibility for the ICC decision squarely with Israel because of its failure to advance negotiations with the Palestinians and its continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

“Unfortunately, I say very unfortunately. I don’t want Israel to be in these positions, I don’t want Israel to be charged in all kinds of courts. But Israel also has to ask itself what it does to prevent this. I don’t want Israel to come to The Hague, but Israel also has a responsibility,” he said. 

“It’s Netanyahu who dragged Israel to The Hague, the right-wing and the settlers,” Horowitz stated, and blamed the policy of “unbridled settlement.” 

“Anyone who thought that this would…have no implications is wrong and it’s a pity we’ve reached this position. To my mind what is good for the Israeli interest is to end the occupation, get out of the territories and a two-state solution,” he added.

It is possible that Horowitz’s remarks on the ICC’s decision are an attempt to persuade his party’s base away from considering a vote for the Labor Party.

In an interview with Yossi Verter in Friday’s Haaretz, Horowitz said: “There will be gevalt [last-ditch efforts]. There’s no alternative. We’ll appeal both to our voters’ hearts and heads. We’ll ask them to come back home.” On Sunday, at the Influencers’ Conference, Horowitz blamed Netanyahu and the Israeli right-wing for the ICC’s decision.

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