UK-Palestine relations have touched a “low point” subsequently after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the UK contests a verdict by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel for war crimes, the Palestinian Mission to the UK announced on Thursday.
In a letter to the Conservative Friends of Israel lobby group in the UK, Johnson held that his government had “respect for the independence” of the court but opposed this particular investigation into Israel.
“This investigation gives the impression of being a partial and prejudicial attack on a friend and ally of the UK’s,” he added.
The Palestinian mission, in a proclamation posted on its website, convicted the statement, which it described as “deeply regrettable”. “This is a contradiction of international law and previous British policy”, it said.
“It is clear that the UK now believes Israel is above the law. There is no other interpretation of a statement that gives a carte blanche to Israel,” the mission stressed. The statement scratches a low point in diplomatic relations and undermines the UK’s reliability on the international stage, it further said.
The ICC propelled a formal investigation last month into suspected carnages in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
Hundreds of Israelis are retained at risk of trial due to the inquiry, comprising of soldiers and senior political figures. Johnson held that, in his letter, the ICC has no jurisdiction to scrutinize because “Israel is not a party to the Statute of Rome, which established the court, and Palestine is not a sovereign state.”
“If Mr. Johnson disputes this, he disputes the legitimacy of the court. Moreover, he contradicts stated British policy, which is clear that settlements are a violation of international law and therefore a war crime,” the Palestinian mission’s statement held.
The statement added that if Israel is not held responsible for its actions, it has no incentive to comply with international law, and if “friends and allies” are exempt from international law, there is no foundation for the rules-based global order.
The Palestine mission said the UK has an opportunity to be an important and positive mediator in efforts to secure a lasting peace in line with international law, and it has a historic responsibility for the Palestinian people, having been instrumental in creating the problem in the first place.