ACKNOWLEDGING Britain’s historic and continuing responsibilities, the Balfour Project works through education and advocacy to advance equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis. It takes its name from the Balfour Declaration, written in 1917 by the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour.

In response to news that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has applied for arrest warrants against both Israeli and Hamas leaders, the Balfour Project issued the following statment, calling on the UK Government to “state publicly its support for the ICC and its staff”:

The announcement by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan KC, that he has applied for arrest warrants against the Israeli Prime Minister and Defence Minister as well as three Hamas leaders over the events of 7 October 2023 and the war in Gaza is a significant moment for the rule of law worldwide. Accountability for grave crimes against humanity is a cardinal principle that must be upheld by all states in an impartial and even-handed manner.

In addition to Binyamin Netanyahu, those named by the ICC on 22 May were Yoav Gallant, an Israeli politician from Netanyahu’s Likud party and former top general, Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ Political Bureau and a former Palestinian Prime Minister, and the two top Hamas military leaders in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif.

In the run up to yesterday’s announcement, the ICC and its staff had been subjected to a disgraceful campaign of intimidation and threats, notably from Netanyahu himself and a group of US Senators. All are democratically elected officials of states that pride themselves on their commitment to governance subject to law.

The Balfour Project calls upon our Government to state publicly its support for the ICC and its staff. Furthermore, the legal processes now set in motion should be allowed to proceed without behind-the-scenes pressures such as regrettably took place prior to Karim Khan announcing his decision. Unless and until they are exonerated by the ICC, none of those accused should be granted meetings with British officials or allowed to visit the UK.

Even if prospects are slim that the arrest warrants will be executed against those charged, the fact that the world’s top criminal court is seriously considering indicting them for some of the worst crimes imaginable is salutary. The victims on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, deserve nothing less.

* Information on the Balfour Declaration here.

* Source: Balfour Project