(Washington, D.C., Dec. 20, 2019)—B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s statement that she accepts the Palestinian canard that “war crimes have been or are being committed” by Israel, and that she will investigate those, is profoundly improper and dangerous.
Clearly, Bensouda cannot tell the difference between war crimes and Palestinian propaganda. It is the Palestinians who have for decades subjected Israel to the high crimes of unrelenting, indiscriminate terrorism – thus necessitating Israeli defensive efforts – and an open campaign of national extermination. By contrast, despite singularly difficult circumstances, Israel, the Middle East’s only actual democracy, has carried out its pursuit of security with a degree of restraint and care rarely if ever seen in the history of military conflict.
Israel has appealed and sacrificed for peace with the Palestinians, as it had successfully with other Arab neighbors, but been met only with more Palestinian violence against its civilians, rejection of mutual compromise and attempts to circumvent direct negotiations by instead recruiting international political and even juridical bodies to pressure and harm the Jewish state.
Beyond the fact that Israel has its own renowned and fully functioning legal system to ensure the country’s compliance with key national and international obligations, the ICC does not have jurisdiction over baseless charges leveled by the Palestinians since the latter do not as of yet, and never have, represented an existing state. Since 1947, the Palestinians consistently rejected opportunities to establish their own state alongside a Jewish state.
The ICC gravely risks politicizing itself, and losing fundamental credibility, by exceeding its mandate and accepting false, politically motivated claims. Such a step is deeply harmful to peacemaking, to vital counterterrorism efforts anywhere and to the cause of all those suffering from genuine atrocity around the world.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org
B’nai B’rith International is pleased that William Schabas has quit his position as head of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) inquiry into Israel’s defensive operations in Gaza during the summer of 2014. The probe itself—tarnished from the start by the Council’s record of singular discrimination against Israel and its advance excoriation of the Jewish state—must be discontinued.
Schabas has been under fire since his appointment to head the “independent, international commission of inquiry” due to his prior, outspoken anti-Israel views. It also came to light recently that Schabas, a Canadian academic, was paid to provide legal advice to the Palestine Liberation Organization. Although Schabas says he is excusing himself to avoid overshadowing the results of the commission’s report expected in March, the probe’s “research” has reportedly already been completed.
“This latest U.N. kangaroo court targeting the world’s only Jewish democracy was illegitimate from the beginning. It was cobbled together following a Human Rights Council resolution that blasted Israel before the commission even launched and didn’t so much as mention Hamas,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “This inquiry has always been stacked against Israel and Schabas’ resignation only reaffirms how corrupt it is.”
Schabas’ bias against Israel has never been a secret. In 2013 he was quoted as saying, “my favorite would be [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu within the dock of the International Criminal Court.”
“While we welcome the departure of William Schabas from the ‘commission of inquiry,’ his biased, anti-Israel attitude will undoubtedly be present throughout its findings,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The inquiry was specifically designed not to focus on years of cross-border terrorist attacks against Israelis, but rather Israel’s defensive response to them. Whatever the Human Rights Council releases in March is likely to attempt to draw equivalence between terrorism and a state defending its civilians from that threat—an outrageous and unacceptable conclusion.”
The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it will open a preliminary investigation into war crimes committed during the summer conflict in the Gaza Strip, hostilities that included, and were precipitated by, massive violence targeting civilians across Israel.
Though it is unclear whether prosecutors at The Hague will formally issue charges, B’nai B’rith condemns this unjustified probe prompted by the Palestinians as the latest page in their playbook that will undoubtedly continue to single handedly undercuts prospects for peace.
“We’ve seen in recent weeks that the Palestinian Authority seems incapable of making necessarily hard decisions to negotiate an agreement and would much prefer to have the United Nations Security Council and the ICC do its bidding,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
“It also speaks volumes that Mahmoud Abbas would to go to the ICC and spur this investigation while his regime is tied to Hamas terrorists who started the summer conflict by kidnapping and murdering three innocent Israeli teenagers and firing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli communities.”
The ICC announcement comes on the heels of the U.N. Security Council's decision to reject a Palestinian ultimatum that would have attempted to force the unconditional fulfillment of the Palestinians' political demands on Israel.
What the Palestinians are attempting to do now perverts the original objective of a permanent international tribunal that would bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
At the time of its creation many were concerned that, given the United Nation’s failed record in these matters, it would one day be used by the Palestinians to unilaterally advance its agenda against Israel.
“The methods that the Palestinian Authority has chosen in an attempt to create a state outside of direct negotiations with Israel by resorting to international pressure can only exacerbate the conflict, not resolve it,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
“If the PA is really serious about this process, it should focus its efforts on ending incitement against Israel and making the compromises necessary to finally move toward an agreement.”
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International commends the United States and Australia for voting today against a Palestinian resolution submitted to the United Nations Security Council on Monday that would have imposed an arbitrary deadline and terms for settling the Palestinian-Israeli issue. By bringing its list of demands to the United Nations and attempting to force Israel to acquiesce through a third party, the Palestinian Authority (PA) sought to exploit the world body to advance its political agenda.
B’nai B’rith has vocally objected to any PA attempt to deliver an ultimatum for Israeli compliance with its objectives. This latest circumvention of negotiations with Israel is no different. In typical PA fashion, the resolution blatantly failed to ensure Israel’s security and identity as a Jewish state.
We applaud the United States and Australia for their commitment to push back against these efforts in defense of a genuine and constructive path to peace. The two votes against, combined with five abstentions from Lithuania, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Korea and the United Kingdom denied the Palestinians the minimum of nine votes needed to adopt the resolution.
The countries that voted in favor of the one-sided resolution—in contravention of longtime international insistence upon direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations—were Argentina, Chad, Chile, China, France, Jordan, Luxembourg and Russia.
Peace can only be achieved through meaningful, bilateral negotiations. The PA’s continued internationalization of the conflict with Israel has only exacerbated the situation. Those countries that genuinely seek a peaceful resolution of this conflict must impress upon the Palestinians to cease exporting and enflaming the conflict by joining new multinational bodies, beginning with the International Criminal Court, in an effort to deploy them as political weapons against Israel.