Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview on a Christian television network that the International Criminal Court is in a "full frontal attack" on democracy and the Jewish people's right to live in Israel, and called for sanctions on the world court in light of its prosecutor's intent to probe Israel's alleged war crimes against Palestinians.
In December, the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC said that there is reasonable basis to investigate Israel for its actions in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The court is currently debating whether it has jurisdiction to investigate war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza.
"I think that everybody should rise up against this," Netanyahu said in an interview with Matt Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network, the world's largest Christian evangelical television network, as dozens of world leaders gathered in Jerusalem for the World Holocaust Forum that will take place Thursday. Netanyahu is expected to use the gathering as a platform to urge world leaders to support Israel against the ICC.
"They're basically in a full frontal attack on the democracies. Both on the democracies' right to defend themselves and on Israel's right, the Jewish people's right, to live in their ancestral homeland, the land of Israel," Netanyahu said.
"The U.S. government under President Trump has spoken forcefully against the ICC for this travesty," Netanyahu said, "and I urge all your viewers to do the same and ask for concrete actions, sanctions, against the international court. Its officials, its prosecutors, everyone."
Recalling the Holocaust, Netanyahu said, "A third of the Jewish people went up in flames. There was nothing we could do. Now, after the Holocaust, the State of Israel was established and the attempts to destroy the Jewish people have not disappeared. Iran openly declares every day that it wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth."
"We now have the capacity to defend ourselves and I think lesson is, one: Stop bad things when they're small, and Iran is a very bad thing. It's not that small but it could get a lot bigger with nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said. "Second: Understand that the Jews will never ever against be defenseless in the face of those who want to destroy them."
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The full interview will be aired in the United States on Tuesday evening.
At the Holocaust forum, Netanyahu is expected to ask the leaders he will meet – chief among them U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and others – to publish official statements that will back the Israeli claim that the court in The Hague has no jurisdiction in Palestinian territories.
The official Israeli position is that the Palestinians cannot be considered residents of a sovereign state, and are therefore not under the authority of the ICC. Israel has also pointed out that the ICC prosecutor has acknowledged that the issues pertaining to such a probe involve complicated legal questions regarding the court’s jurisdiction.