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by David Bedein, Middle East correspondent,

Jan 22 2010,:

Israel is used to being attacked at The Hague, but this time it may turn out that the one sitting on the defendant’s bench at the international court in The Hague may be Iran.

Over the past week, the Knesset, Israel's parliament, has begun an international parliamentary procedure intended to place Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the defendant’s bench at the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The charge: violating the UN charter to prevent genocide.


[Editor's Note: The concept of trying the Iranian President for violating the UN charter by committing state-sanctioned incitement to genocide is one that Canadian Liberal Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler outlined in Winnipeg during his visit here on Jan 18th, before a student conference at the Asper Campus organized by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg]

The adoption of Cotler's initiative is the first significant attempt by the Knesset to act in the legal arena against the government in Tehran.

The Member of Knesset leading the initiative is Yohanan Plesner , the chairman of the lobby for the promotion of relations with Europe at the Knesset.

“Instead of Israel being accused in the international arena, the time has come to go on the offensive,” he said yesterday. “We are in the right in this matter, and we have to stop being the victim. We need to demand fairness and justice against those who are the real problem,” he said.

The members of the lobby and high-ranking jurists from all over the world, who have been led by Cotler, Canada’s former justice minister, came up with the idea. The jurists drafted a professional legal opinion that constituted the legal basis for the case, writing that approximately sixty years ago, following the Holocaust, the UN decided to write a convention entitled “Never Again.” The convention, which was signed by most of the world’s countries, stipulates that countries shall be forbidden to work actively, or even verbally, in favor of genocide. The Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers, the convention reads. It began with the words that were uttered prior to their existence.

According to Professor Cotler, Iran is also a signatory of the convention, but the behavior of the high-ranking members of its administration is a severe violation of its commitments, and therefore there are grounds for contacting both courts in The Hague: the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

All members of the Knesset received a monograph more than one hundred pages long containing proof and testimony upon which the case is based. These proofs are, among other things, statements that Ahmadinejad made against Israel, such as “A cancerous growth that must be removed,” and statements comparing Jews to bloodthirsty barbarians. In addition, the spiritual leader of Iran, Khamenei, is quoted as saying, “There is only one solution to the problem of the Middle East: the destruction of Israel.”

The professional legal opinion that the MKs have adopted is that each country that signed the convention must charge Iran, which is violating it, in the international court. The Knesset representatives have begun to examine the subject with other parliaments in Europe in order to submit the first lawsuits by European countries soon, and the responses have been positive. Knesset officials would rather that Israel actually be the last to contact The Hague in order to increase the European commitment to the process. This week, the first official letters were sent out to members of parliament and ambassadors of the countries that signed the UN convention in order to draft a series of letters, which Israel will join later on, to the court in The Hague.


Editor's note: See the full text of a petition below regarding Iran that was signed by students at the conference in Winnipeg where Irwin Cotler spoke on Jan 18. . Note that the petition asks Canadian Members of Parliament to take steps 'to bring the Iranian leadership before an appropriate international tribunal for the purpose of declaring Iran in breach of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, for state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, specifically for their repeated assertions that Israel should be `wiped off the map,' which reference by Canada is required as a State Party to the Genocide Convention."


We, the undersigned residents of Canada, in honour of Raoul Wallenberg Day – celebrating Canada’s first honourary citizen, draw the attention of the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to the following:
That the leaders of Iran and elements of its security services have engaged in massive domestic repression against the people of Iran, students, dissidents, minorities such as the Baha’i, journalists and others.
That the leaders of Iran have persistently denied Israel's right to exist and have denied the Holocaust; President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other leaders have called for Israel to be `wiped off the map' and the Government of Iran has displayed inflammatory symbols and taken consistent actions that express similar intent.
That, the prospect of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) achieving nuclear arms represents a grave threat to Canada and its allies in the Middle East, Europe, and globally.
That the Iranian leadership have been implicated in global terrorism, including the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Centre in Buenos Aires resulting in the issuance of an INTERPOL arrest warrant.
That the Canadian people have feelings of friendship for the Iranian people, regret that developments of recent decades have created impediments to that friendship, and hold the Iranian people, their culture, and their ancient and rich history in the highest esteem.
Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Government of Canada:
To redouble its efforts to hold the Iranian leadership to account in general – and in particular:
To support Bill C-412 (the “Iran Accountability Act”), the only such Bill before the House of Commons;
To bring the Iranian leadership before an appropriate international tribunal for the purpose of declaring Iran in breach of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, for state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, specifically for their repeated assertions that Israel should be `wiped off the map,' which reference by Canada is required as a State Party to the Genocide Convention;
To propose, in light of Iran's continued defiance of the international community, that the United Nations Security Council adopt additional measures against Iran, including targeting Iran's energy sector;
To support Argentina and to enforce the INTERPOL arrest warrant for the alleged AMIA bombers; and
To work with our international partners to combat the state-sanctioned incitement by the leaders of Iran, Iran’s quest to achieve nuclear arms, support for global terror and Iran’s massive domestic human rights violations.
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