Ian Austin

The UK should pull its funding from the International Criminal Court

How would we have felt if Britain’s leaders had been indicted alongside leaders of the IRA or if Churchill had been treated in the same way as Hitler?


Karim Khan KC

May 24, 2024 11:07

This week’s decision by the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor Karim Khan to request arrest warrants for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister Yoav Gallant is a disgusting perversion of the principle of justice the court is meant to uphold. And to call for the arrest of Israel’s leaders at the same time as Hamas terrorists is an insulting disgrace.

How can people responsible for upholding international law draw an equivalence between the barbaric murderers, rapists and kidnappers of the terrorist group Hamas and the elected leaders of the Middle East’s only democracy?

There can never be any comparison between terrorists attempting genocide and a democracy defending itself.

How would we have felt if Britain’s leaders had been indicted alongside leaders of the IRA? If Churchill had been treated in the same way as Hitler?

Make no mistake: this is a propaganda victory for Hamas and a disgusting attack on Israel, simply for defending itself.

Number Ten were right to condemn the ICC’s warrants, but we are one of the court’s most significant donors and we should withdraw funding immediately in protest.

The pictures from Gaza are terrible. The death of any innocent civilian is a tragedy, but it is inevitable because Hamas are deliberately putting them in harm’s way by hiding fighters and weapons in densely populated civilian areas and in hospitals, schools and mosques.

And it is just not true to claim – as Khan does – that Israel is “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, [and] deliberately targeting civilians in conflict.” He accuses Israel of enforcing a “total siege” when in fact 28,000 lorries have carried more than 540,000 tonnes of food, medical supplies and shelter equipment into Gaza.

Some military experts say the numbers of civilian casualties are wildly exaggerated by Hamas. A large proportion of those killed are believed to be Hamas terrorists because the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) takes great care to abide by international law. It goes to unprecedented lengths to minimise the risk to civilians. Before taking any military action they warned civilians to evacuate to other parts of Gaza. They issue warnings and drop leaflets alerting residents before targeting buildings in which terrorists are hiding.

Indeed, back in October, it was none other than Khan himself who said, “Israel has trained lawyers who advise commanders and a robust system intended to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.”

Israel’s leaders were united in fury. “With what insolence do you dare to compare Hamas’s monsters with the soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world?” asked Netanyahu. Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said “it is not possible to issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Sinwar and Deif. There is no such comparison, we cannot accept it and it is unforgivable.”

Even Joe Biden, who has been critical of Netanyahu, said the warrants were “outrageous”. “Let me be clear,” he said, “whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence—none—between Israel and Hamas”.

Rishi Sunak’s office criticised the decision as well and the Foreign Office issued a statement saying “we don't believe that seeking warrants will help get hostages out, get aid in, or deliver a sustainable ceasefire. This remains the UK’s priority… As we have said from the outset, we do not think the ICC has jurisdiction in this case."

In the months after 7 October, Keir Starmer provided strong and determined support for Israel’s campaign to defend itself, but resolve in the Labour Party now appears to be weakening.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy defended the court and said it was “an independent matter for the court and the prosecutor'.

And let's hear no more talk - from either the government or opposition - about suspending arms exports licenses or restricting arms sales to Israel.

However many shanty towns trendy students erect outside their universities and whatever the extremists and anti-Israel racists say on social media, the decent mainstream majority – and the ‘Red Wall’ voters whose trust Labour needs to win back – know that Israel is the victim and has to defend itself.

They know as well that Britain stands to lose much more than Israel if the defence and security relationship between Israel and the UK is undermined.

British companies provide less than one per cent of Israel’s arms imports but much more vital equipment and critical intelligence comes the other way.

Israel’s security services provided warnings of Iranian-sponsored Islamist terrorism that prevented attacks in the UK. Military experts say the RAF could not get its planes off the ground without Israeli technology. Their drones and armoured vehicle defences protected British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Good luck to politicians who try to explain why they want to deprive out security services of vital intelligence and our troops of the means to defend themselves.

We need to bear two facts in mind. First, the lunatic fundamentalists in Iran have declared war on the West and Israel is the front-line.

Second, Hamas are completely opposed to peace with Israel. They will not stop until they have destroyed the country and murdered its citizens. There is no prospect of peace until Hamas are destroyed.

This is why the UK must do everything it can to help Israel defeat the terrorists as quickly as possible.

May 24, 2024 11:07

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