Dutch MPs call for answers on Israel ICC intimidation claims

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Dutch MPs are calling on the government to clarify claims made recently by the Guardian and others that senior officials working at the International Criminal Court in The Hague have been spied on and intimidated by Israel.

The paper said at the end of May that Israel has run an almost decade-long secret “war” against the court. “The country deployed its intelligence agencies to surveil, hack, pressure, smear and allegedly threaten senior ICC staff in an effort to derail the court’s inquiries,” the paper said.

The investigation was carried out together with Israeli-Palestinian news organisation  +972 and Israeli website Local Call.

The court’s current chief prosecutor Karim Khan, his predecessor Fatou Bensouda, and dozens of other ICC and UN officials have been subjected to the surveillance and the covert operation “mobilised the highest branches of Israel’s government, the intelligence community, and both the civilian and military legal systems to derail the probe,” +972 said.

The court has since confirmed to RTL Nieuws that it has been subjected to an “unknown number of attempts by security services from other countries to access information” which led it to bring in additional security procedures, but declined to comment further.

Now MPs from D66, Denk and the GroenLinks-PvdA alliance have submitted a string of written questions to ministers to get more clarity. “These are totally unacceptable activities,” MP Kati Piri said. “You cannot accept this, even from a country with which you have friendly relations.”

Piri said she was shocked by the claims, given the pressure on the court at the present.

“When espionage was discovered previously in The Hague, for example, by the Russians at the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] in 2018, the Netherlands immediately put embassy employees who were involved out of the country,” she told the British paper. “If we are sure that the embassy or members of the Israeli embassy here in The Hague were involved then there must be consequences.”

New party NSC has also called for the independence of the court to be respected.

The ICC was established in 2002 as a permanent court of last resort for the prosecution of individuals accused of some of the world’s worst atrocities. The court is recognised by over 100 countries, but not the United States or Russia.

On May 20, Khan said he is seeking warrants against Netanyahu and his defence minister, Yoav Gallant, along with Hamas leaders implicated in the 7 October attacks. 

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