In a departure from official policy up till now, Israel has decided to hold a discussion with the head of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague about the Palestinian Authority (PA) efforts to charge it with "war crimes" over last summer's Gaza war.
Israel has until now refused to grant official recognition to the ICC's authority, as doing so would lend credence to the attempts to slander the Jewish state at The Hague. The US and Russia likewise have not ratified the Rome Statue, the treaty that established the court.
Arutz Sheva has learned that the state is now launching a process at the ICC that will be very limited in its scope, and which aims to clarify two points: firstly that Israel is capable of investigating and drawing conclusions about its military actions on its own, and secondly, that the ICC has no authority to discuss the PA complaints, given that the PA is not a state.
Several discussions have been held in recent days on the topic between representatives of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and officials at the Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry. It was agreed to establish a special unit and dispatch its members to The Hague, where they will meet with senior members of the ICC.
The political echelon has emphasized that the step does not constitute cooperation with the investigation that the ICC is holding based on the PA's charge – rather the move is meant to shelve that investigation.
Official sources in Israel have refused to speak directly about the issue, but it was made known to Arutz Sheva that the first meeting between the Israeli team and the ICC will be taking place in the coming days.
Israel has refused to respond to accusations against it at the ICC and is likely to continue doing so, given that the current cooperation is limited and only relates to the investigation of last summer's Operation Protective Edge.
Last last month the PA officially submitted the first batch of legal documents to the ICC in its attempt to have Israel prosecuted for "war crimes" – a move it has been threatening for months.
At the time of the PA's first submission, Israeli political sources told Arutz Sheva that the Jewish state does not intend to cooperate with the ICC.
US President Barack Obama's administration has said it does not believe “Palestine” is a sovereign state and therefore does not qualify to be part of the ICC, but has not explicitly threatened to withhold aid. Washington did, however, indicate it was reviewing its annual $440 million aid package to the PA because of the decision to join the ICC, which is a breach of the 1993 Oslo Accords that formed the PA.