Israel’s attorney general published a legal opinion Friday that the International Criminal court has no jurisdiction in the West Bank or in Gaza, amid fears that the ICC would open an investigation into Israeli actions there, a decision the court may make in the near future. In response, the ICC prosecution has requested that the court decide whether or not it does have jurisdiction over the territory.
In a media release, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit states that the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC has been conducting a preliminary examination in response to a request submitted by the Palestinians. But the ICC, to which Israel is not a party, “lacks jurisdiction in relation to Israel and that any Palestinian actions with respect to the Court are legally invalid.”
Mendelblit’s opinion, which was circulated primarily in English in order to reach a broader audience, explains that only sovereign states can delegate criminal jurisdiction to the court. This disqualifies the Palestinian Authority, even if the Palestinians have purportedly joined the ICC’s Rome Statute. It also says that “Israel has valid legal claims over the same territory in relation to which the Palestinians are seeking to submit to the Court’s jurisdiction.”