Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked US lawmakers to help Israel avoid war crimes charges stemming from the Gaza conflict.
Netanyahu asked a delegation of visiting legislators to help keep Israel out of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Rep. Steven Israel (D-N.Y.) told the New York Post in an interview Wednesday from Israel, the newspaper reported.
The State Department said Thursday that it was not familiar with any request by Netanyahu to help defend Israel against war crimes allegations.
Palestinian Authority leaders met Wednesday with officials from the court to discuss the process of joining.
The Palestinians and other world leaders have charged that Israel committed war crimes by firing on civilian areas of Gaza during its operation. Experts have suggested that Palestinians in Gaza also could be charged with war crimes for firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel, most in civilian areas.
Netanyahu “wants the US to use all the tools that we have at our disposal to, number one, make sure the world knows that war crimes were not committed by Israel, they were committed by Hamas. And that Israel should not be held to a double standard,” Israel the congressman told the Post.
On Thursday, a top Israeli legal expert said he did not anticipate Israel finding itself before the ICC. The Palestinians know that were they to accept the court’s jurisdiction, as they would be required to do, they too would be subject to its authority, said Robbie Sabel, a former legal adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry and professor of international law at Hebrew University. “And Hamas deliberately and flagrantly ignores the rules of war,” Sabel told The Times of Israel.