ABU DHABI // A senior UAE politician today will demand that Israel be prosecuted for war crimes over its actions in Gaza. In his speech to the 15th Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in Muscat, Abdulaziz al Ghurair, Speaker of the UAE's Federal National Council (FNC), will accuse the international community of double standards, according to the FNC's secretary general, Mohammed al Mazroui.
He said Mr al Ghurair would argue that if the Sudanese president, Omar al Bashir, is to be prosecuted for war crimes then Israel should be too. An international arrest warrant for Mr Bashir was issued on Wednesday by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which wants him to stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, which the UN alleges to have killed about 300,000, although Sudan puts the death toll at about 10,000. It is the first time the ICC has ordered the arrest of an incumbent head of state. "Mr Ghurair will suggest trying to launch an international prosecution against Israel regarding the crimes they committed in Gaza," Mr al Mazroui said yesterday from Muscat. "The Arabs are with Sudan and they are saying the way Sudan is being treated is not equal to the way Israel is being treated. Israel does many bad things and nobody blames them. So how can the international community then treat Sudan in this way? Besides, Sudan is not even a member of this court. "So we will suggest prosecuting Israel via the same court or using any other means." The ICC decision to prosecute Mr Bashir has divided the international community, with Arab, African and Chinese leaders calling for the decision to be reversed. Jordan is the only Arab country to have signed up to the ICC, while countries such as the United States, Israel and China have not ratified its jurisdiction over them, although many African states have. Khartoum has rejected the ICC warrant and expelled 13 foreign aid agencies from Sudan, accusing them of conspiring with the prosecutors. That could leave more than a million people in Sudan's Darfur region without food, water or health care, aid agencies have warned. Mr Bashir plans to attend the Arab League summit in Doha later this month in a show of defiance. Meanwhile, Palestinian groups have already petitioned the ICC urging them to prosecute Israel for crimes during its war on the Gaza Strip, which lasted 22 days and killed about 1,300 Palestinians. The Palestinians have told the ICC that they accept the court's jurisdiction over the Gaza Strip and the ICC prosecutor is now deliberating over whether the Palestinian Territories constitute a state for such a purpose, said Christopher Hall, Amnesty International's senior legal adviser. "The ICC prosecutor is taking this very seriously and is carrying out a complete review of the international agreements to see what can be done," he said. "There is not a double standard regarding Israel." Officials at the ICC could not be reached for comment yesterday. firstname.lastname@example.org