By Janet Ekstract ISTANBUL-On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the press after a cabinet meeting in Ankara that his government is exploring how to bring war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Erdogan reiterated that Turkiye is ready to take responsibility for a regional security mechanism. The Turkish leader emphasized Israel’s “crimes against humanity” and said that as the U.S. and the EU look on, Israel continues to commit atrocities. Erdogan said he wants to make sure that those committing such crimes are held accountable in a court of law. He sharply criticized the West in his comments: “The Western world, mainly European countries, have failed their humanity lesson once again in Gaza.” He added: “Those who are bystanders to the deaths of thousands of Gazan children today, will have no credibility for anything they might say on any topic tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, since Turkiye is not a party to the Rome Statute, an international treaty that paved the way for establishing the ICC, it isn’t able to directly apply to the ICC. The recourse it does have is that it can notify the ICC prosecutor’s office through government agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) about crimes against humanity. Under certain provisions, the ICC prosecutor can begin investigations based on crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC which means that Turkiye could issue notices about crimes committed by the Israeli government. Part of that evidence includes Israel’s use of white phosphorus bombs dropped on Palestinians, targeting civilian areas including hospitals, schools, refugee camps, mosques and churches. It also includes Israel rejecting the U.N. General Assembly resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire. The Turkish president has been particularly outspoken against Israel’s actions that he and many others have said go “against international law.” It’s because of his remarks that Israel recalled its diplomats from Turkiye in a bid it said to “reevaluate” its relations with Turkiye. Rapproachmejnt had been going on well between Turkiye and Israel with a flurry of high-profile visits between the two countries in the last six months. Since Erdogan labeling Israel a “war criminal”- relations between the two nations have taken a serious downturn.
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