Netanyahu, Senior Officials to Hold First Meeting on Israel's Response to ICC Probe

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud campaign event in Jerusalem, last month.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud campaign event in Jerusalem, last month.Credit: Emil Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene a meeting on Tuesday to discuss Israel's response to the International Criminal Court decision to open an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes. Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and other senior officials are expected to attend.

On March 3, the court announced it would investigate Israel and Hamas for possible war crimes committed in the territories since June 2014. Formal notices were sent out March 9, giving Israel and the Palestinian Authority until April 9 to apply for a deferral by proving they are carrying out their own investigations into the alleged offenses.

Netanyahu has not yet discussed the issue with the relevant cabinet members, but foreign and justice ministry professionals have been working on their recommendations for the political leadership.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Ashkenazi on Friday that Washington plans to lift sanctions on ICC officials that had been imposed by the Trump administration. "I emphasized Israel’s firm position against the Court’s jurisdiction to him, and Israel’s absolute commitment to protecting its citizens and soldiers," Ashkenazi wrote on Twitter.

"I clarified that the PA’s active involvement in advancing the case and the investigation will harm any chance of progress whether that be at the political level or the situation on the ground," Ashkenazi wrote. "The Palestinians’ activity has a destructive impact on relations with Israel."

Blinken and Ashkenazi also discussed regional strategic issues as well as "Iran’s perpetual and intensifying violations of its nuclear commitment," in the words of the foreign minister. Blinken also briefed his Israeli counterpart on the talks scheduled in Vienna Tuesday on a possible return to the nuclear agreement with Iran.

In addition, Ashkenazi wrote, he and Blinken also discussed the Palestinian issue, including aid to the Palestinian Authority. "The strategic alliance between Israel and the United States is based on many shared values and interests, and I see great importance in holding an open and honest discussion between us," the foreign minister wrote on Twitter.

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