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20 Jun 2024 10:52
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  •   Home > News > International

    Benjamin Netanyahu's Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer backs Peter Dutton's suggestion to sever ties with International Criminal Court over arrest warrants

    One of Benjamin Netanyahu's top advisers has called allegations made against the Israeli prime minister "outrageous and libellous" while applauding Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.


    A close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backed Opposition Leader Peter Dutton's suggestion that an Australian government could cut ties with the International Criminal Court (ICC), and called for other nations to do the same if charges against Israeli leaders are not dismissed.

    In an exclusive interview with 7.30, Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister and Observer Member of its War Cabinet, Ron Dermer, applauded Mr Dutton for his stance.

    "I didn't know that but I am very glad to hear him say that," Mr Dermer said.

    "I think that sentiment is widely shared in the United States on both sides of the political aisle.

    "I didn't know the head of your opposition had said that, I applaud him for doing it."

    ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim AA Khan has sought five arrest warrants. Three are for Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri and Ismail Haniyeh for alleged crimes on and after October 7, 2023.

    Two are for Mr Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, for alleged crimes on and after October 8.

    Mr Dutton said on Tuesday that it was "a terrible decision" and an "anti-Semitic stance" to pursue Israeli leaders alongside those from Hamas, and that Australia should "put pressure" on the court to reverse its decision.

    On Thursday Mr Dutton again called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to act.

    "The ICC should reverse their decision and the prime minister should come out today to call for that instead of continuing to remain in hiding or continuing to dig a deeper hole for himself," he said.

    While Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Foreign Minister Penny Wong were quick to say there is "no equivalence" between Israel and Hamas leaders, Science Minister Ed Husic accused the Coalition of choosing which laws they follow.

    "The Coalition talks big about law and order and then wants to pick what law and order it will follow," Mr Husic told the ABC.

    "It's staggering that you can have a mainstream political party determine on the basis of something that is uncomfortable for them [that they] would then turn their back on a court of law."

    Call to reject the ICC charges

    But turning their collective backs on the ICC is exactly what Mr Dermer has called on nations party to the ICC to do.

    He labelled the allegations that Israel had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war in Gaza, including pursuing a strategy of starving Palestinians, "false and libellous".

    "They're outrageous," he told 7.30 of the charges.

    "Not just because it creates a false symmetry between the leaders of a terror organisation, Hamas, and Israel's prime minister and defence minister, but because it's also false charges [around] the idea that Israel is trying to starve the population in Gaza or intentionally killing civilians in Gaza.

    Israel is accused of targeting civilians, including through a strategy of starvation, something that Mr Dermer strongly rejected.

    "I think that is the most outrageous libel against Israel, I sit in the war cabinet. And from day one, our policy was to enable basic humanitarian assistance to reach those people in need."

    Aid agency UNICEF says that 50,000 children under five years of age are suffering from malnutrition in Gaza.

    Reporting from the ABC has shown horrific images of emaciated children in the Gaza strip.

    UN officials have previously cited Israeli inspections, Israeli strikes on aid convoys and the killing of Gazan policemen (who were escorting aid deliveries) by Israel as some of the obstacles to effective aid delivery.

    Mr Dermer countered that Israel had sent "over a half-a-million tonnes of humanitarian assistance, including 400,000 tonnes of food and 20,000 trucks of food [that] we have enabled to move into Gaza".

    "So the whole idea that Israel has a policy of starvation is absurd."

    Instead, he blamed Hamas for "stealing food and putting civilians in harm's way" in Gaza where the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs currently lists the total death toll at 35,303.

    A panel of three judges in the ICC will now decide whether to issue arrest warrants for the Hamas and Israeli leaders and allow a case to proceed.

    "Hopefully the judges will throw this case out," Mr Dermer said.

    "And if they don't, then I hope some of these countries will not accept it because the ICC doesn't have jurisdiction over these cases."

    Asked whether Israel would expect Australia to comply with the ICC warrants to arrest Mr Netanyahu and defence minister, Mr Dermer said he hoped Australia would "reject this decision".

    Watch 7.30, Mondays to Thursdays 7:30pm on ABC iview and ABC TV

    © 2024 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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