House debates

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Statements by Members

International Criminal Court

1:38 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to talk about Palestine and Israel. The underpinning of a civilised world is not only Australian domestic law but also international law. The International Criminal Court was set up to deal with war crimes and crimes against humanity. We were one of the first signatories to the treaty that established the court. The third most recent country to join the treaty was the State of Palestine. The ICC prosecutor has spent five years in a preliminary investigation looking at allegations, including that Israeli authorities have settled Israeli civilians into Palestinian territories, a clear breach of the Geneva Conventions; that Palestinian Security Services in the West Bank have committed torture against civilians under their control; and that there has been criminal behaviour by both the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups. The prosecutor wants to prosecute these alleged crimes. Given the territorial complexity, the pre-trial court has sought submissions to determine whether it has jurisdiction. The Australian government, along with only five other governments, has indicated it does not think that the court has jurisdiction—not because there are no crimes to answer but because we do not recognise Palestine as a state. I ask: why did Australia feel it necessary to make this observation and risk the capacity for the ICC to consider these possible crimes? Why should Australia not leave the umpire to do its job?