German Foreign Minister Says ICC Has No Jurisdiction Over Palestinian Territories

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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at a news conference in Berlin, Germany, in December.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at a news conference in Berlin, Germany, in December.Credit: POOL/ REUTERS

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday that the International Criminal Court “has no jurisdiction” in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, “because of the absence of the element of Palestinian statehood required by international law.” 

Maas’s remarks on Twitter follow a decision issued over the weekend by ICC judges that it did have jurisdiction in these territories, allowing for an investigation against Israel and Hamas of suspected war crimes.

“Since its foundation, Germany has been one of the ICC’s strongest supporters,” Maas added. “We support the establishment of a future Palestinian state as part of a two state solution negotiated by Israelis and Palestinians.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a former senior Palestinian official, responded to Maas’ tweet: “So your ‘legal view’ supersedes the ruling of the ICC judges and the resolutions of the UNGA? No self-respecting state should accept instructions from (or intimidation by) Israel. #IsraeliCrimes must be investigated and judicial #accountability must be respected.”

On Monday, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi launched a round of talks with his counterparts from around the world with the aim of pressuring the court to keep it from taking any additional steps against Israel.

The decision on jurisdiction came despite Israel’s objections, and the issue came up in telephone conversations Ashkenazi had on Monday with Maas, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. It was also mentioned in a personal conversation with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who is part of a delegation that visited Israel, led by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The United States and Russia, like Israel, are not members of the ICC. Germany, however, is a member, and was one of seven member states to present an opinion supportive of Israel’s position that the court does not have any legal jurisdiction in the territories occupied during the 1967 Six-Day War.

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