Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed not to allow any Israelis to stand trial for war crimes even if demanded by the United Nations or world court. It is a position that defies the entire basis of international legal process created by the Nuremberg Tribunals since no country has a right to determine its own innocence. As previously noted, the Goldstone Commission found credible evidence of war crimes in the Gaza campaign.
With Netanyahu’s announcement, both Israel and the United States are now blocking war crimes investigations of their own officials.
Netanyahu simply dismissed the position of the United Nations commission and insisted that “[t]he truth is exactly the opposite. Israel’s leaders and its army are those who defended the citizens of Israel from war criminals.”
Many of us agree that Israel had a right to defend itself against attacks by Hamas. However, Israel and the United States are undermining the legacy of Nuremberg as little more than “victor’s justice” when they refuse to submit to such investigations or prosecutions. Every nation accused of such crimes from Nazi Germany to Japan to Serbia have denied the allegations, but have been forced to cooperate in the adjudication of the claims. The most fundamental premise of international law is that countries must yield to such independent adjudication. The fact is that much of the findings concerned not Israel’s right to defend itself but how it carried out the invasion, including the use of prohibited weapons and tactics. I do not have an inkling of the truth of these allegations but that is the point of an international tribunals when there are such allegations of the violation of international law.
Simply calling the Goldstone report “a kangaroo court against Israel,” as does Netanyahu, only unilaterally claims the right to refuse to comply with international agreement and international law when you claim innocence. With Israel threatening an attack on Iran and demanding an international investigation of that country, it can hardly afford to put itself at odds with the very foundation of international law.
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