Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor says she was left unanswered by the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Karim Khan on why he issued an arrest warrant against the Russian president Vladimir Putin and not for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Pandor visited the ICC offices ahead of the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.
She met with the president of the ICC and Khan.
But Pandor said they wanted to get information on progress made in the referral they submitted last year.
South Africa made a referral to the ICC late last year that the court must investigate Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu and senior officials in his government for war crimes and crimes against humanity over their military operation in Gaza.
Pandor, who was briefing the media in Pretoria this week, said during her meeting with Khan she could not get an answer on why he was able to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine conflict, but cannot do the same thing against Netanyahu.
“On the ICC referral, we thought it important, since we were in The Hague last week to meet the ICC. We met the President of the council and the prosecutor. While it’s imperative that we don’t interfere in processes of independent organs, it is vital that we alert them to our concern and the slow pace of action on matters we referred to them as urgent matters.
“The prosecutor assured us that this matter is in hand and being looked at by his office. He gave us an elaborate explanation as to personnel assignments and the work that the prosecutor is currently undertaking.
“What I felt he did not answer me sufficiently on was, I asked him ‘why was he able to issue an arrest warrant for Mr Putin and is unable to do so for the Prime Minister of Israel’. He could not answer and did not answer that question. But I read into what he said that the investigations are still under way and until their conclusion, he cannot pronounce on this matter,” said Pandor.
She said she told Khan they will keep coming back to probe on the matter because they want to see a resolution to it.
When South Africa made the referral last year, they wanted the ICC to start with the investigation.
Khan said a few months ago he had been investigating the Gaza issue for the last three years.
Khan was at the Rafa border crossing when he tried to get into Gaza, but could not enter because of the war.