Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said on Saturday that he "resolutely rejects" the statement by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor that there is a basis for launching an investigation against Israel for committing war crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
"The State of Israel is a democratic, law-abiding country, which is committed to honoring international law and humanitarian values, and acts to promote them," he said in a statement to Israeli media.
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Pedophiles and politics: Why is an alleged child rapist still in Israel?Ep. 53
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The decision is "unacceptable" and "it's unclear why she [prosecutor Fatou Bensouda] was in such a hurry to make a rash and unfounded decision like this," the attorney general added.
Israeli military chief Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz attends a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel July 28, 2014. Nir Elias/ REUTERS
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said that Israel has yet to decide whether it would cooperate with the process the ICC has launched ahead of a possible probe.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's statement was also criticized earlier Saturday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rival Benny Gantz, the leader of the Kahol Lavan Party. Her decision "is a political decision, not a legal one," Gantz wrote in a tweet, adding that "the Israeli army is one of the most moral militaries in the world."
Gantz, who served as chief of the IDF during Israel's ground operation in Gaza in 2014 – one of the main four points in the investigation the ICC prosecutor seeks to launch – said that "the Israeli army and State of Israel do not commit war crimes." He added that "in the struggle over Israel's international legitimacy to defend itself, there is no coalition and opposition. We will all join the fight for justice and for our basic right to defend the State of Israel and its civilians."