More than 50 former foreign ministers, prime ministers and senior international officials, including two former British Conservative ministers, signed an open letter condemning political interference in the efforts of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the crimes of suspected war in Palestine.

The letter follows steps taken by the Trump administration to sanction court officials – orders that have since been overturned by the Biden administration – and is also seen as a reprimand from Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister.

Johnson said last month that an ICC investigation opened in March looked “like a partial and damaging attack on a friend and ally of the UK,” referring to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that any ICC investigation would be “pure anti-Semitism”.

Condemning “the growing attacks on the ICC, its staff and cooperating civil society groups,” the letter identifies the actions taken by the Trump administration against the court as part of a larger trend.

“We have witnessed with great concern the executive order issued in the United States by former President Donald Trump and the sanctions envisaged against court staff and members of their families,” the letter said.

“Deeply concerning now is the court’s unwarranted public criticism of its investigation into alleged crimes committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism. “

“It is well established and recognized that accountability for serious human rights violations by all parties to a conflict is essential for achieving lasting and lasting peace. This is the case in Israel-Palestine, as well as in Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan, Mali, Bangladesh / Myanmar, Colombia and Ukraine.

“Attempts to discredit the tribunal and obstruct its work cannot be tolerated if we are serious about promoting and maintaining justice in the world,” the signatories add while brushing aside claims from Johnson’s type, which he formulated in a letter to conservative friends. from Israel.

“We understand the fears of politically motivated complaints and investigations. Yet we are firmly convinced that the Rome Statute guarantees the highest standards of justice and offers a crucial way to fight impunity for the world’s most serious crimes. Failure to act would have serious consequences.

The ICC investigation has also met opposition from other European countries, including Germany, including Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, said the “court lacks jurisdiction because of the absence of the Palestinian state element required by international law ”.

The signatories of the letter come from all political backgrounds in Europe and include former Conservative ministers Sayeeda Warsi and Chris Patten; Douglas Alexander, former Labor Secretary of State for International Development; Sir Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats; and Ben Bradshaw, former Labor Minister of State at the Foreign Office.

Among the international signatories are a number of former prime ministers, including Jean-Marc Ayrault of France, Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norway, John Bruton of Ireland, Ingvar Carlsson of Sweden and Massimo d’Alema of Italy. Other signatories to the letter include former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana and Hans Blix, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Defending the ongoing investigation into alleged war crimes in Palestine, former Danish Foreign Minister and former President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, told the Guardian: “A world order based on rules are based on the idea that violations of international law must suffer consequences.

“The International Criminal Court is an essential tool to this end, and it is our responsibility to protect its independence and strengthen its capacity to work. On the contrary, calling into question the independence of the tribunal calls into question the protection of a rules-based world order.

“The current investigation of the International Criminal Court can be an important part of it, and the international community must do what it can to protect the independence of the Court in the exercise of its functions. “

Although the letter does not mention Johnson’s name, his intervention underscored concerns over attempts to obstruct the ICC investigation, which was officially announced earlier this year.

The Palestinian mission to the UK described Johnson’s letter as a “deeply regrettable” contradiction of international law and previous British policy.

“This marks a low point in UK-Palestine relations and undermines UK credibility on the international stage,” he said. “It is clear that the UK now believes that Israel is above the law. There is no other interpretation of a statement that gives Israel carte blanche.