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Canada declares opposition to alleged Israeli war crimes investigation

CANADA has written to the International Criminal Court (ICC) opposing investigations into alleged Israeli war crimes in Palestine, following pressure from Benjamin Netanyahu.

The letter outlining the Canadian position was sent to the court on February 14, but its contents were only made public today.

Ottawa told the ICC that it did not recognise Palestine as a state and therefore supports the Israeli position that the court has no jurisdiction on the case that has been presented.

The Canadian government reminded the court that its “financial contribution to the ICC will be $10.6 million this year,” in what was seen as a bid to exert pressure to halt the investigations.

In a landmark decision last December, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda declared that she was “satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine.”

She said: “In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.”

This conclusion, which followed years of preliminary investigations into alleged crimes committed by both Israeli and Palestinian groups, paved the way for a formal investigation.

But the issue of jurisdiction is contested. Under the Rome statute that established the court, it can only hear cases if one of the parties is a signatory.

While the court accepted Palestinian membership in 2015, Israel is not a party to the convention.

In December, Mr Netanyahu called on his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau to condemn the ICC decision to open investigations.

He also wrote to the Canadian government outlining the “special relations and steadfast friendship between our countries” and calling on Ottawa “to acknowledge there is not a Palestinian state, that the court has no jurisdiction in this matter … and to voice your deep concerns regarding its dangerous ramifications to the court and the region.”

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