The Security Cabinet is to meet next week for the first time since the installation of Naftali Bennett as defense minister, Hebrew media reports said Wednesday.
Earlier this week the full government cabinet decided that the top-level security forum should be tasked with formulating the country’s response to the International Criminal Court’s readying of a probe into alleged war crimes by Israel in the Palestinian territories.
The cabinet also approved a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to classify deliberations about the subject with ministers telling media that publication of Israeli efforts to thwart the ICC’s launching of an investigation could damage the national interests.
The ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced last week that at the end of her five-year preliminary examination, she has reached the conclusion that “there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation into the situation in Palestine.”
There are indications that both the Israeli army and Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups may have committed war crimes, she stated.
At the same time, Bensouda acknowledged that the ICC may not have jurisdiction over the case, and asked the court’s pre-trial chamber to rule on the matter within 120 days.
Israel vociferously rejects her statement, arguing that the court clearly does not have jurisdiction over the case, as there is no Palestinian state that has the mandate to transfer criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague.
The US and Australia have both said they oppose the ICC probe while Germany by contrast, has expressed its support for the court.
Bennett took over as defense minister on November 12, the same day that the Israel Defense Forces began “Operation Black Belt,” which was sparked by Israel’s targeted killing of PIJ commander Baha Abu al-Ata in the Gaza Strip.
During the escalation of violence that followed, Palestinian terror groups fired 450 or so rockets and mortars at Israel, which responded with many retaliatory strikes in Gaza. While the Israeli military said as many as 25 terrorists were killed in the days of fighting, Palestinian human rights monitors said the dead included 18 terror operatives and 16 civilians. They included three women and eight minors.