‘Nonsense’: Dutton criticised over Gaza

Peter Dutton was criticised on Q7A. Picture: NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Australia should think about the company it wants to keep before leaving international bodies such as the United Nations and International Criminal Court, experts have suggested.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has flagged potentially cutting ties with the ICC after prosecutors targeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alongside three Hamas leaders over the ongoing war in Gaza.

During a discussion on the ABC’s Q&A program, the panel was asked whether Australia should consider leaving bodies like the ICC and UN when decisions that do not favour us are made.

But Ukrainian journalist Alisa Sopova advised caution on the matter.

“Australians should think about what company they want to be in if they pull out because 99 per cent of countries that pull out of the ICC are the countries who committed war crimes and they have something to be prosecuted for,” she said.

The Guardian’s world affairs editor Julian Borger also disagreed with the suggestion.

“I think if you support international legal institutions only when they don’t go after your friends and your political allies then maybe you don’t believe in the rule of law,” he said.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has flagged potentially cutting ties with the ICC. Picture: NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“I just think if you try and figure out what advances we’ve made as humanity since the Holocaust, since slavery, since colonialism, I would point to the UN charter and the aspirations in that, and I would point to the ICC and this idea that we as humanity will not put up with certain crimes.

“They are crimes against humanity. This is something that protects us all.

“It may be a kind of rickety, underfunded, frail protection, but it is all we’ve got.

“I think if you’re prepared to give that up for political advantage, for your political allies, then I think that’s just the height of short-sightedness.”

Asked whether the ICC prosecutor’s decision to announce the arrest warrants together for two Israeli leaders and the three Hamas leaders put them on a level playing field and was optically a problem, Mr Borger said that was his job.

“His mandate is to look at the crimes committed on a certain territory, by all parties — that’s literally his mandate,” he said.

“They’re not accused of the same things. There’s some overlap.”

Maher Mughrabi, from The Age, said the term “moral equivalence” was an insult to people’s intelligence.

“I think if you had on the same docket, on the same day, a person who was a career criminal and a person who was being charged for the first time, the person who is being charged for the first time and the career criminal are not morally equivalent,” he said.

“The only equivalence that they have is that they’re both subject to the rule of law.

“I think what really outrages the US and Israel about this decision is that for the first time Israel has to be accountable to someone other than itself.”

Human rights advocate Deborah Cheetham Fraillon added: “It would be so convenient for Australia to opt-out and there will be a day of reckoning here for the crimes committed against First Nations people.”

Mr Mughrabi was also critical of Mr Dutton for saying there was peace on October 6 before Hamas attacked Israel.

“On one level, that’s palpable nonsense,” he said.

PORTRAIT-Deborah Cheetham Fraillon
Deborah Cheetham Fraillon says Australia will have its day of reckoning for crimes committed against First Nations people. Picture: Newswire / Gaye Gerard

“The fact is that 2023 on the West Bank, which is not the place that’s being bombarded now, was the most violent year since 2005. “Hundreds of Palestinians were killed, 80 children were killed on the West Bank in 2023. There was no peace on October 6.

“On the crude level ... Hamas understood, for better or worse, what would create a disturbance, what would disturb the surface and that was the deaths of large numbers of Israelis, and so that’s what they did.

“They did something that couldn’t be ignored because the deaths of Israelis count and the deaths of Arabs don’t count.”

Mr Mughrabi said Hamas was willing to fight and kill people to make their point.

“I hear people here say all lives matter and I hear people say they cringe and recoil when they see the violence of the Israeli state … but I have to say, I don’t hear anybody who is willing to stand up and fight for the Palestinians,” he said.

“I don’t hear anybody who is willing to put their political or their economic credentials on the line to save Palestinians lives.

“If you leave a vacuum where you’re not fighting for the Palestinians, yes, Hamas is going to fill that vacuum every single day of the week. That’s the tragedy.

“The tragedy is that you have left the field as an international community to Hamas. If you don’t want Hamas in the centre of the field, take the centre of the field. Fight for the Palestinians.”

Ms Sopova agreed, adding people were still conflating Hamas and Palestinian civilians.

“I think if we are still not distinguishing between Hamas and Palestinian civilians, and also between the state of Israel and Jewish people elsewhere, and then every criticism of the Jewish state suddenly becomes anti-Semitism as if you forget that there are so many Jewish people, including myself, who do not support what the state of Israel is doing,” she said.

“If we are still committing so easily this very simple, illogical mistake, I don’t know if the narrative has really improved.”