Libs shouldn’t pick and choose court freedom: Minister

Labor's Ed Husic says it's "staggering" the Liberals would threaten to turn their back on the ICC.

Labor's Ed Husic says it's "staggering" the Liberals would threaten to turn their back on the ICC. Photo: Getty

The Liberals shouldn’t have flagged withdrawing Australia from the world’s top criminal court just because they didn’t agree with a decision, a Labor frontbencher says.

Withdrawing from the International Criminal Court to protest the chief prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and defence minister for suspected war crimes couldn’t be ruled out, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said.

It was “staggering” a mainstream political party would threaten to turn their back on a court of law “on the basis of something that is uncomfortable to them”, cabinet minister Ed Husic said.

“The coalition talks big about law and order but then wants to pick what law and order it’ll follow,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.

The international community was split on its response to prosecutor Karim Khan’s decision to seek warrants for the Israelis and three Hamas commanders simultaneously, with many saying it drew a false equivalence between the two.

The point was echoed by the coalition and Jewish groups in Australia.

Husic reiterated that the federal government had been clear there was no equivalence between Israel and Hamas, which is a designated terrorist organisation in Australia.

“People are being charged on the basis of individual action, there is no moral equivalence between the state of Israel and a terrorist organisation in Hamas, I mean, that simply is not the case,” he said.

“But certainly, people have been concerned following Hamas’ deadly actions, the way in which 35,000 Palestinians have been killed through a campaign that has been undertaken by the Israeli government.

“The whole way through I’ve been saying we need to acknowledge humanity.”

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said she had made her expectations clear about Israel following international law privately and publicly.

Australia would continue to advocate for a multilateral system, she said.

“Australia does have an interest in the multilateral system, in the United Nations system continuing to be strong and robust and have the faith of the international community,” she told SBS News.

“That’s what we will always advocate for.”

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham has called for Israel to act within the bounds of international law while expressing sorrow for any innocent life lost, “be they an Israeli life, a Palestinian life or anybody in this conflict”.

It comes as Norway, Ireland and Spain pledged to recognise a Palestinian state, which the Israeli foreign minister said would be met with “severe consequences”.

It’s the Australian government’s position to recognise a Palestinian state, but with no timeline attached.

“Countries make their own decisions about the appropriate time,” Senator Wong said, adding she wanted to see more reform of the Palestinian Authority and more movement from both sides towards peace.

“The first thing we need to do is the release of the hostages and immediate humanitarian ceasefire and of course more access for humanitarian aid,” she said.

Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1200 people and taking more than 200 hostages, according to Israel.

Israel’s counter-offence in Gaza has since killed more than 35,000 people, the local health ministry has tallied.


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