Dutton doubles down on war crimes call despite censure

Peter Dutton on International Criminal Court

Source: 2GB

Opposition MPs have backed leader Peter Dutton’s call to consider boycotting the world’s top criminal court despite criticism the Coalition shouldn’t pick and choose when to apply laws.

Withdrawing from the International Criminal Court in protest couldn’t be ruled out, Dutton said.

His assertion follows a finding by ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan that there are reasonable grounds to suspect Israeli ministerial involvement in possible war crimes, including starvation and intentionally attacking civilians.

There were similar grounds to suspect three Hamas commanders committed crimes against humanity including murder, sexual violence and hostage-taking, Khan said earlier this week.

Dutton branded the decision to seek warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant an “obvious antisemitic act” and called for it to be reversed.

He also chastised Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for not condemning the prosecutor’s actions, after Albanese said Australia respected the independence of the court and didn’t comment on matters before it.

“The Jewish community is completely and utterly bewildered,” Dutton said on Thursday.

Later, on Sydney radio, he described Albanese’s reactions to the ICC moves as “like a deer in the headlights”.

“There’s obviously a stance that the Labor Party is taking that they think will win the votes in western Sydney. Ultimately though, to be at odds with the United States and the United Kingdom and most other allies on this issue, well I think it’s beyond sad – it’s tragic,” he told 2GB host Ray Hadley.

But cabinet minister Ed Husic said it was “staggering” that the Coalition talked big about law and order and then turned its back on a court of law “on the basis of something that is uncomfortable to them”.

There was no finding by the ICC of moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas, which is a designated terrorist organisation in Australia, Husic reiterated.

“People are being charged on the basis of individual action,” he told ABC radio.

However, Liberal MP and former Australian ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma said Australia should examine “our options and our future co-operation with the court” if the warrants were granted.

His argument was based on legal complications, he said, pointing to the court not being able to come over the top of a domestic legal system’s investigations.

When Israel made a mistake, it was quick to investigate, apologise if at fault and take steps to address shortcomings, he said.

“Everything I’ve seen indicates to me Israel is doing its utmost to comply with the principles of international humanitarian law,” Sharma told Sky News.

If the court agreed with the warrant, “then I think the time has come for Australia to stand up”, Liberal colleague and chair of the Australia-Israel Allies Caucus Andrew Wallace said.

“Say, ‘you know what, this was a bad move, the United States got it right, they refused to be a part of it in the first place’,” he said.

Liberal MP Aaron Violi also backed in Dutton’s comments, saying he rejected the insinuation of equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1200 people and taking more than 200 hostages, according to Israel, while a counter-offensive in Gaza has since killed more than 35,000 people, according to the local health ministry.

-with AAP

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