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Israel opposes the ICC investigation, saying it lacks jurisdiction

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JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel said Thursday it would formally reject the International Criminal Court’s decision to launch an investigation into possible war crimes against Palestinians, denying that it committed such crimes and saying the court has no jurisdiction. to investigate.

A panel of judges at the ICC ruled in February that the court has jurisdiction, allowing the investigation to continue. Israel’s response to an official announcement sent last month is not expected to reopen that debate, though judges may review the issue of jurisdiction later in the process.

The court is expected to consider possible war crimes committed by Israeli forces and Palestinian militants during and after the 2014 Gaza war, as well as the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied and annexed West Bank East Jerusalem that now houses over 700,000 settlers. International law prohibits the transfer of civilians to occupied territory.

Palestinians have hailed the investigation as a rare opportunity to hold Israel accountable for what they say are serious, one-time violations of international law. The Palestinians were granted non-member observer status at the UN General Assembly in 2012, allowing them to join international organizations such as the ICC.

Israel says the court is biased against it and has no right to investigate, citing its trials and the fact that the Palestinians have neither a state nor defined borders.

“Apart from the complete rejection of the allegation that Israel commits war crimes, Israel reiterates its clear position that the Hague Tribunal has no authority to open an investigation against him,” the government said in a statement, detailing a letter planning to ‘send to the ICC

“Israel is committed to the rule of law and will continue to investigate any allegations against it regardless of the source, and it expects the court to refrain from violating its authority and sovereignty,” the statement said.

The letter is in response to an official notice sent to all parties by the ICC last month. Israel could have argued that it was capable of investigating and prosecuting violations on its own, potentially delaying or even canceling the ICC investigation.

Experts have said that Israel may have succeeded in postponing investigations into possible war crimes, citing its own investigations into misconduct by its soldiers. But the continued creation and expansion of settlements has been an official state policy for decades and is permitted under Israeli law.

Israel is not a member of the ICC, but Israeli officials could be subject to arrest in other countries if the court issues orders against them.

Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in the 1967 war, territories the Palestinians want for their future state. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but imposed a blockade after the Islamic militant group Hamas took power there two years later. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and numerous smaller clashes since then.

Most of the international community sees the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories, the final status of which should be decided in peace talks.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem as its unified capital and sees the West Bank as the historical and biblical heart of the Jewish people. For more than a decade there have been no substantive peace talks.

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Associated Press reporter Isaac Scharf contributed to this report.

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