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PSC condemns the UK Prime Minister’s statement criticising the ICC’s decision to initiate investigations into alleged grave crimes committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory.

For decades successive UK governments, whilst issuing rhetoric condemning Israel’s violations of international law, have failed to take meaningful action to hold Israel to account.  The decision by the ICC in March to initiate an investigation regarding the situation in Palestine provided hope that Israel’s impunity for international law violations may be coming to an end. It also provided an opportunity to the UK government to give meaning to its assertion that “Promoting international criminal justice and the rule of law are fundamental elements of the United Kingdom’s foreign policy.”  A genuine commitment to upholding a rules based order based on the foundations of international law, requires consistent application regardless of who is the alleged perpetrator of a crime. Shamefully, Prime Minister Johnson has made clear that the Government’s opposition to the ICC’s investigation is rooted in the fact that it is being initiated against “a friend and ally of the UK’s”. It also renders farcical and hypocritical the Prime Minister’s simultaneous assertion that “the UK is a strong supporter of the Court”.

Supporting the Court means respecting and not seeking to undermine its neutrality and independence. This includes respecting its clear and independent judgment, after a painstaking examination lasting more than 5 years, that it may exercise its criminal jurisdiction in the situation in Palestine and that the territorial scope of that jurisdiction extends to Gaza, and the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

A commitment to justice and the upholding of the law would see the UK supporting, not impeding, the Court’s investigation, and condemning the intimidatory threats the Israeli government has made against the Court. This would send a message to Israel that it can no longer see itself as a state operating above the law with impunity, but that it will be held accountable for its disregard of international law.

We call upon the UK government to adopt a more consistent position supporting the Court but not exempting Israeli officials from proper investigation. We call upon all opposition parties to condemn the Prime Minister’s statement and reaffirm their parties’ commitment to upholding a rules-based world order and supporting the independence and impartiality of the Court. We reaffirm the call for all public bodies in the UK to uphold their own responsibilities to support international law and human rights conventions by ensuring they do not financially support, via investment or procurement, companies or corporations complicit in aiding Israel in the commission of war crimes.