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Canadian foreign minister backs Israel's ICC stance

Palestinian News
25 Jan 2015, 17:12 GMT+10

JERUSALEM, Israel - Canada's foreign minister has spent part of this week in Israel ahead of that country's national elections.

Just ahead of his arrival Israel's foreign minister said he would demand Baird cut Canada's funding of the International Criminal Court.

"We will demand of our friends in Canada, in Australia and in Germany simply to stop funding it," Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio last Sunday. "This body represents no one. It is a political body," he said.

"There are quite a few countries, I've already taken telephone calls about this, that also think there is no justification for this body's existence," he added. The Israeli foreign minister said he would take the matter up with his Canadian counterpart who was visiting Israel.

The ICC on the Friday before Mr Lieberman's statement announced it would carry out a preliminary investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories in July and August 2014. "The Office will conduct its analysis in full independence and impartiality," the ICC said in a statement issued at the time.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird was quick to respond to Israel's request for support on the issue, weighing in on the ICC and declaring Canada would take steps to get the ICC Court to reverse its decision. He did not however make any commitment to reducing funding to the international body, whose foundation was supported by Canada saying that was a decision for the government and not him alone.

"This is wrong on so many levels," he told media on his arrival in Israel. "First and foremost, Israel, every time it comes under attack, seems to have to have one hand tied behind its back. And what this seems to do is tie the other hand behind its back."

"And secondly," he said, "the ICC is not to be used where there are mechanisms for domestic judicial processes and review. And obviously, Israel has one of the most independent judiciaries in the world," he said.

Baird confirmed Canada had "filed an objection" with the court.

"We are going to speak out forcefully against this decision, and try to get it turned around," he said.

"It's tough, but we just fundamentally have a major problem with this decision."

Canada, like Israel goes to the polls this year. Asked by reporters if the Stephen Harper-led government's tough pro-Israel stance would impact on his own country's elections, Baird said, "We don't support Israel because it gets us votes."

Pictured: Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird (right) with his Israeli counterpart.

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