Officials concerned of legal exposure in international court

Sources say after ex Mossad chief claims Israel conducts a policy of apartheid in the West Bank and far-right ministers make racist statements, the country's legal exposure in the Hague could bring sanctions and isolation
Israeli officials on Wednesday voiced concerns that comments made by former senior members of Israel's security agencies, along with statements of some ministers in the government would be used against Israeli in international criminal proceedings.
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The International Court of Justice in the Hague is already set to announce its opinion on the legality of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the International Criminal Court (ICC) is supposed to investigate allegations of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.
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The International Criminal Court in the Hague
(Photo : Roman Yanushevsky)
Earlier on Wednesday, former Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo told the Associated Press in an interview, that Israel is enforcing an apartheid system in the West Bank. When someone who held such a senior position uses the term apartheid, it can be used to prove such allegations in legal proceedings, the officials said.
A senior official rejected Pardo's accusation calling it hyperbole and saying it bolsters Israel's enemies. "The use of the word apartheid by someone who was at the helm of one of Israel's security agencies is damaging and we will cost Israel in international litigations. It should not have been said," the official said.
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הצהרת הבכירים לשעבר במערכת הביטחון
הצהרת הבכירים לשעבר במערכת הביטחון
Tamir Pardo
(Photo: Moti Kimchii)
But statements made by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and others were also a source of concern. Smotrich said he thought the Palestinian town of Huwara should be wiped out. And all though he later retracted, his statement could be seen as damming to Israel's case. His actions in his capacity as a minister in the Defense Ministry, with responsibility over affairs in the West Bank, are perceived as a de facto annexation of Area C and as destroying any chance for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The officials also said the National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's interview last month, when he said the right of his family for security trumped the rights of Palestinians, also strengthened claims of an Israeli policy of apartheid.
"My right, my family's right and my children's right to travel safely on the roads comes before the right to travel for Palestinians. The right to life comes before the freedom of movement, and that is just the way it is," Ben-Gvir said.
Nick Kaufman, an Israeli attorney who served at the ICC said such comments by ministers, present Israel's detractors in the court, with proof for their claims, on a silver platter.
"As long as Israeli ministers speak publicly in a manner that can be construed as support for an established policy that includes inhumane acts of an oppressive and racist regime, the road to the prosecution of Israeli leaders is clear."
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השר לביטחון לאומי איתמר בן גביר בסיור בדרום תל אביב לאחר התפרעות האריתראים
השר לביטחון לאומי איתמר בן גביר בסיור בדרום תל אביב לאחר התפרעות האריתראים
Itamar Ben-Gvir
(Photo: Shaul Golan)
If the court in the Hague rules that Israel is conducting a long-term occupation of the West Bank, its legal exposure would be complicated and its policy could be ruled a de facto annexation, in which case it could be subject to sanctions and political isolation by the international community.
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