New Zealand: Misguided Israeli-Palestinian peace resolution threatens justice for war crimes

A draft United Nations Security Council resolution prepared by New Zealand which seeks to promote renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations by cutting out the International Criminal Court is seriously misguided, Amnesty International said today.

The draft resolution calls on Israel and Palestine to “to refrain from referring… a situation concerning Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories to the International Criminal Court.”

“You cannot have long-term peace without justice. The scale of injustice felt on both sides plays a key role in maintaining the cycle of violence. New Zealand’s proposal would deny thousands of Palestinian and Israeli victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the only chance to have their day in court,” said Jonathan O’Donohue, International Justice Legal Adviser at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International has written to New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, calling on him to remove the section of the resolution that calls on Palestine and Israel to refrain from referring cases to the International Criminal Court. It welcomed the government’s desire to engage the Security Council on Israeli-Palestinian issues that relate to human rights, but warned that the current draft threatens to entrench impunity and ultimately undermine efforts to establish a sustainable peace.

“New Zealand is one of the Court’s strongest supporters. However, if it goes ahead with this call, it would undermine the leadership it has shown in promoting international justice. Israelis, Palestinians and the wider world desperately need to see justice done for egregious human rights abuses,” said Jonathan O’Donohue.

Amnesty International has documented crimes under international law on both sides in successive conflicts, as well as the failure of Israeli and Palestinian authorities to investigate them.