Continuing to Engage at the ICC for Israel

SKIP ASH, ACLJ

You’ll recall that in early December 2019, Jay [Sekulow] and a team of lawyers flew to The Netherlands to argue before the International Criminal Court (ICC) Appeals Chamber in The Hague on behalf of U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan. The ICC Prosecutor was seeking permission to investigate and potentially try American soldiers and intelligence civilians for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Jay powerfully argued that the ICC did not have—and could not get—jurisdiction over U.S. nationals without the express consent of the U.S. Government. That’s the law, but the Prosecutor is fighting hard against the U.S. position. As of this date, the Appeals Chamber has not issued its ruling in that case.

Yet, we are still engaged with the ICC. Now the Prosecutor is seeking to investigate and try Israeli nationals for alleged crimes committed against the Palestinians—once again in clear violation of international law. This week we submitted a “Request for Leave to Submit Observations” to the Chamber of judges charged with deciding whether the Prosecutor has jurisdiction to proceed (in non-legalese, this is simply a document requesting the court’s permission to assist the court by submitting legal arguments against what the Prosecutor wants to do).

This is one of the more significant fights that we’ll participate in because the Prosecutor wants the Chamber of judges to determine what land belongs to Palestine in direct contravention of a number of key principles of international law as well as agreements freely entered into by the Palestinians with Israel. It would be like some foreign entity coming uninvited to the United States and deciding that Arizona, California, and New Mexico really belonged to Mexico.

By filing our request, we are asking to be allowed to provide arguments in writing laying out why the ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel (it’s a sovereign State that is not a member of the treaty that established the ICC and hence not bound by the terms of such treaty) or “Palestine” (since “Palestine” is not a State and never has been one, it is wholly outside the purview of the ICC).

If the judges decide to allow oral arguments, we will also ask to be permitted to present such arguments, and we’ll be ready to stand firm in defense of Israel’s sovereign rights. Only Israel is singled out for such treatment.

Whether the ICC realizes it or not, God is not mocked, and He has said concerning Israel, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you.” We at the ACLJ are pleased to be able to stand in defense of Israel’s interests in this matter.

We’ll keep you informed as things develop. Thanks for your continuing prayers and financial support.


Robert W. “Skip” Ash is a Senior Counsel at the ACLJ and at the ECLJ. Ash heads the ACLJ’s national security practice. As such, he deals daily with legal issues concerning Believers in the U.S. Armed Forces, with issues regarding the Law of Armed Conflict worldwide, with issues before the International Criminal Court, with issues before the United Nations and its agencies, and with issues before other international courts in Europe. Ash is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, who served 22 years on active duty as a U.S. Army officer. His service included serving as NATO desk officer in the War Plans division of the Army Staff as well as a military strategist for the Secretary of Defense in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Plans in the Pentagon. Ash is also one of the founders of the Centre for the Study of Law & Public Policy at Oxford. He currently serves as Secretary of the Centre at Oxford. A graduate of Regent University School of Law, Ash has also served as a member of the faculties of the School of Law and the Robertson School of Government at Regent University where he taught courses on national security law, public international law, comparative law, First Amendment law, business associations, and legal research and writing.


Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.


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