Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was warned by the attorney general's office that annexing the Jordan Valley could spur an International Criminal Court investigation of senior army officers, civil service officials and heads of regional councils of West Bank settlements.
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The warning was issued after International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda condemned Netanyahu’s declaration that he will work toward annexation of the territory, which is in the West Bank, to Israel.
During recent consultations, officials in Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit’s office made it clear that a sworn-in government can legally annex the territory, but must consider the possible consequences on the inquiry being conducted at The Hague on Israel’s activity in the West Bank.
Until now, Deputy Attorney General for International Affairs Roy Schondorf, the National Security Council and other security officials have successfully fended off attempts to prosecute Israel in the international legal arena, but the Justice Ministry is now concerned that annexation would make it much more difficult to do so.
Furthermore, the attorneys warned, “The European ruling on marking products from the settlements will be just the beginning.” They said annexation would expose all Israeli officials who work in the West Bank to prosecution, including local and regional council heads.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.AP
Netanyahu recently reiterated that he plans to annex the Jordan Valley, saying he had discussed the issue with U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have declared that the settlements are not illegal under international law. At the Makor Rishon Conference on Sunday, Netanyahu said, “The time has come to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and to normalize all the communities in Judea and Samaria, those that are in the [settlement] blocs and those outside them. They will be part of the State of Israel.”
On Monday, Netanyahu slammed the heads of the Kahol Lavan party, saying they “are refusing to set up a broad national unity government that will annex broad areas of Judea and Samaria.” Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz has stated in the past that the Jordan Valley will part of Israel under any future agreement with the Palestinians.