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PM holds meeting on Palestinians’ ICC move, leaves Liberman out

Defense Minister Ya’alon, senior ministry officials discuss Israel’s response with Netanyahu, but foreign minister not invited

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right), Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (center) and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon at the Knesset on November 12, 2014. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right), Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (center) and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon at the Knesset on November 12, 2014. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an emergency meeting Thursday to discuss Israel’s response to the Palestinian Authority’s application for membership in the International Criminal Court, but didn’t invite his foreign minister to take part.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday applied for Palestinian membership in the International Criminal Court, and signed on the Rome Statute and 19 other international treaties in a move that could establish a new avenue for action against Israel after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution aimed at establishing a timetable for a full Israeli pullout from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, senior judiciary officials and Foreign Ministry Director General Nissim Ben-Shitrit met with Netanyahu, but Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was left out of the round table, Channel 2 reported.

The two-hour meeting was also attended by national security adviser Yossi Cohen, as well as senior officials from various government offices, the IDF and the Shin Bet security agency, Haaretz reported.

“We expect the International Criminal Court to dismiss outright the Palestinian Authority’s hypocritical appeal because the Palestinian Authority is not a state,” Netanyahu said in a statement after the meeting. “It’s an entity which exists in an alliance with a terrorist organization, Hamas, which commits war crimes, and the state of Israel is a country of law with a moral military which observes international law.”

“We will protect the soldiers of the IDF as they protect us,” he said.

It remained unclear, however, what steps, if any, Netanyahu resolved to adopt.

According to Haaretz, Liberman apparently wasn’t invited because of the political tensions between the prime minister and his erstwhile political ally, the head of the Yisrael Beytenu party.

Foreign Ministry said Liberman wasn’t invited to the discussion because of Netanyahu’s concern that Liberman would put forward recommendations which would challenge the prime minister’s positions. He therefore only invited “yes men,” such as Ya’alon, they told Haaretz.

Unnamed sources in the Prime Minister’s Office told Channel 2 that Netanyahu was focusing on the issue personally because his decisions would be put before the cabinet.

“When there’s need for decision making the matters will be brought for discussion in the security cabinet, and it will be presented before all the ministers,” a PMO official said.

It remained unclear, Israel Radio noted, why Ya’alon was invited to the discussion but Liberman wasn’t.

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