CJPME applauds ICC application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders Netanyahu and Gallant

Montreal, May 20, 2024Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) applauds the application for arrest warrants filed by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.  The application was filed against the two Israeli leaders based on their actions in Gaza, in particular the targeting of civilians and blocking of humanitarian aid. In the past, the Trudeau Government has sought to dissuade the ICC from investigating war crimes by Israel, and CJPME is concerned that it may similarly attempt to obstruct justice alongside the United States. CJPME urges Canada to publicly support the application for warrants, and be prepared to execute them should they be issued.

“The ICC Prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants is a huge step towards holding Israeli officials to account for crimes against humanity, and Canada has a responsibility to support it,” said Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. “At the same time, Canadian officials shouldn’t assume that only Netanyahu and Gallant are culpable in the war crimes committed against Palestinians.  Many others in Israel’s extreme right-wing administration and military bear responsibility for these crimes,” added Woodley.  Even prior to Oct. 7, CJPME had long urged the Canadian government to downgrade its ties with Israel’s government. Israel’s disproportionate and criminal response after Oct. 7 make such action even more urgent, starting with a comprehensive two-way military embargo. 

Among other things, the ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan accused Netanyahu and Gallant of 1) starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, 2) wilful killing, and 3) intentionally attacking a civilian population.  The prosecutor’s office stated that it had collected corroborating evidence from interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses, authenticated video, photo and audio material, satellite imagery and statements from Israeli leaders suggesting that Israel had “intentionally and systematically deprived the civilian population in all parts of Gaza of objects indispensable to human survival.”  Khan also applied for warrants against three Hamas leaders for their role in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

CJPME notes that the Trudeau government has repeatedly attempted to discourage the ICC from its investigation of alleged war crimes by Israeli and Palestinian officials committed in the occupied Palestinian territories, which was finally launched in 2021. However, Canada is obliged under Article 86 of the Rome Statute to fully cooperate with the ICC in its investigation and prosecution of crimes. CJPME also reminds the Trudeau government that on March 18 it voted in support of an NDP motion on Palestine which included a pledge to “support the prosecution of all crimes and violations of international law committed in the region” and “support the work of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.”

Predictably, Israeli leaders have already attacked the ICC and its applications for arrest warrants as “antisemitic.”  Yet CJPME asserts that Canada must push back against efforts to shield Israeli officials from prosecution by the ICC. Such efforts undermine the so-called rules-based international order that Canada frequently invokes, but which are never applied when it comes to Israel’s actions against Palestinians. “To prove that nobody is above the law, Canada must publicly support the ICC’s efforts to bring arrest warrants and these Israeli leaders, and to ensure that justice is served,” concluded Woodley.

About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.

For more information, please contact Michael Bueckert, VP CJPME: 613-315-7947 or [email protected].

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org

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