It’s time for Australia to choose between friendship with war criminal Israel or international law obligations

May 21, 2024

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) urges the Australian Government to support both the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defence of Israel Yoav Gallant, and the court’s investigations into war crimes in Palestine.

The ICC’s application must mark the end of decades of Israeli impunity and the beginning of justice for Palestinians.

It is also the moment for the Australian Government to immediately act in accordance with its obligations under international humanitarian law, as a party to the Rome Statute. 

This includes by publicly supporting all steps to ensure Israel is held legally accountable for its crimes in Palestine, by rescinding the Morrison Government’s 2020 request to block ICC investigations into the situation in Palestine, and by supporting the ICC as it is threatened and attacked by other states.

The findings of the court’s prosecutor reflect what Palestinians have been reporting and showing the world during the past eight months, as Israel’s genocide, terrorism and imposed starvation in Gaza has been livestreamed across the globe. 

APAN looks forward to further warrants being issued in due course, to account for the full range of criminal acts perpetrated by Israel. 

This ICC application comes in addition to ongoing investigations, initiated by the Palestinians with the full support of Hamas, by the court into Israel’s conduct since June 2014 in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, including the rogue state’s hostilities since 7 October 2023.

The global community is yet to see any ruling on these investigations into Israel’s conduct in Palestine, including its crimes of murder, apartheid, unlawful attacks on civilians, torture, cruel and inhumane treatment of Palestinians, persecution and denial of basic human rights, forcible transfers of Palestinians, the unlawful appropriation and destruction of Palestinian homes, and state-sanctioned settler terrorism. 

The ICC’s application is reinforcement of the International Court of Justice’s finding that Israel is plausibly committing genocide in Gaza. 

And it vindicates the unwavering demands by the Australian community for our government to take active steps to cut ties with the Israeli Government, and to sanction this criminal state, its officials – including Netanyahu and Gallant –  commanding military officers, and any Australians serving with the Israeli Defence Forces for gross violations of international law.

APAN calls on the Australian Government to belatedly take its place on the right side of history by using all diplomatic and economic tools at its disposal to prevent genocide in Gaza and see Israel held accountable. 

This must include an end to the issuing of export permits for weapons components where Israel is the end user, the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and recall of Australia’s ambassador to Israel.

Quotes attributed to APAN President Nasser Mashni:

These applications for arrest warrants for these key Israeli officials have been a long time coming, and they represent a crucial moment for Palestinians, because they are harbingers of the beginning of justice for Palestine – and the international community must act to ensure this is the case.

This is a crunch point for Australia, which must honour its legal obligations as a signatory to the  Rome Statute to choose between continuing to side with Israel and the US, who have chosen to threaten, smear and undermine the world’s highest court as it fulfills its duties, or acting in accordance with our obligations under international law to see Israeli war criminals indicted.

The ICC’s application must put an end to Israel hiding behind history or its supposed ‘democracy’ to justify its genocide and decades of apartheid, terrorism and oppression of Palestinians.

The people of Gaza cannot wait another day – Australia must now have the moral fortitude to enact its legal obligations, use its voice and all diplomatic tools at its disposal to end the genocide and ensure justice is done.