A group of UK charities and Human Rights Watch joined Palestine in condemning British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s letter to the Conservative Friends of Israel, in which he expressed the UK’s opposition to the ICC decision to investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine since June 2014.
In the letter sent on 9 April, Britain's Prime Minister undermined the international court’s independence and jurisdiction to hold the relevant and alleged Israeli perpetrators liable.
Last month, the ICC prosecutor initiated the investigation, which was welcomed by Palestinians and numerous rights groups as a step towards achieving justice. Though Israel does not recognise the court’s jurisdiction, availing its UN observer state status, obtained in 2012, Palestine became a State Party to the ICC in 2015, which paved way for the court to exercise its jurisdiction on its territory.
Despite defending the court against attacks, including the unprecedented US sanctions against ICC officials last year, in his letter, Boris Johnson described the probe as giving “the impression of being a partial and prejudicial attack on a friend and ally of the UK". Further, he stated his expectations that the court’s newly elected British prosecutor and judge would “reform the court,” raising concerns over the independence of the institution.
Read the full letter here.
Responding to this statement, the Palestinian mission to the UK accused Britain of offering “carte blanche to Israel to continue its illegal settlement project in occupied territory”. It said the gesture marked a “low point in UK-Palestine relations and undermines the UK’s credibility on the international stage”. “It subverts the rules-based global order” and “it sets back efforts to secure a lasting and just peace in Palestine," the diplomatic mission stated. It "begs the question of whether the UK government is committed to international law and international order", it added.
Read the full statement here.
A group of 12 British charities condemned the UK’s decision to oppose the step towards accountability as political interference that risks pushing justice out of reach for the victims, and as “standing in the way of justice”.
Similarly, Human Rights Watch denounced the “double standards” that the UK has had on Israel and Palestine. It added that UK’s opposition did not align with the country that “purports to be a global human rights leader and champion of accountability for the world’s worst atrocities”.