SNP MSP John Mason has claimed the International Criminal Court (ICC) is “biased against Israel” in what pro-Palestine organisations are calling a “deeply alarming” email.

The ICC chief prosecutor last week announced he would seek the arrest of senior leaders of Hamas, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and one of his senior ministers, for alleged war crimes.

In an email sent last week, Mason criticised the ICC, claiming it was “not neutral”.

“You refer to the International Criminal Court but we know that such bodies are not neutral but are biased against Israel,” he said in response to a push by the group Show Israel the Red Card to sever sporting links with the country.

Mason also went on to blame Iran for being “behind the current Middle East crisis”, while rejecting calls to end sporting links with Israel.

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He wrote: “Israel is far from perfect but it does have a better human rights standard and is more democratic than many other countries.

“So if we stopped playing Israel, we should also have to break sporting links with Iran (which is behind the current Middle East crisis), Saudi (which has an awful human rights record), Afghanistan (where women are so badly treated), China, India, and Pakistan (in all three minorities are very badly treated), and several other countries.”

Stephen Flynn (below), the SNP’s Westminster leader, said the UK is “complicit” in the deaths of thousands in Gaza after the ICC announced it was seeking an arrest warrant for Netanyahu.

The chief prosecutor of the ICC, Karim Khan, said that he believes Netanyahu; his defence minister, Yoav Gallant; and three Hamas leaders: Yehya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh; are responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The National: Stephen Flynn

Pro-Palestine organisations and human rights campaigners in Scotland including Gaza Genocide Emergency Committee – which Show Israel the Red Card is a part of  –  and Scottish Friends of Palestine said they were alarmed by Mason’s comments.

Maree Shepherd of Show Israel the Red Card, a campaign calling on Israel to be banned from UEFA and FIFA, said: “I am extremely shocked and concerned that an elected member of the SNP party could openly claim that international institutions such as the ICC are biased.

“To do so greatly hampers the chance of bringing peace and holding to account those guilty of war crimes. 

“To also ignore Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine of almost eight decades, its appalling human rights records and its latest horrific military campaign on occupied Palestinians where Gaza has been reduced to rubble and over 36,000 Palestinians have been killed is also deeply alarming.

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“He also accuses Iran as the nation responsible for the current crisis in the Middle East, with again no mention of Israel’s role.”

Wael Shawish of Scottish Friends of Palestine said he wanted to hear from First Minister John Swinney following Mason’s email.

He said: “We would like to hear what the newly elected leader of the SNP, John Swinney, and First Minister thinks. Does he share the view of his colleague that bodies such as the ICC are not neutral and are biased against Israel? Does he also think Iran is responsible for the current crisis in the Middle East?

“And does he also believe that Israel should not be penalised and be allowed to partake in world events alongside other nations? All during its latest military campaign against Palestinians in what the International Court of Justice has described as a plausible genocide?"

Swinney has said Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer must “immediately” recognise the state of Palestine and has written to both of them demanding they "do the right thing".

He said the SNP would force a binding vote at Westminster after the General Election if they failed to do so.

Netanyahu has been put in the company of Vladimir Putin for who the ICC issued an arrest warrant over the war on Ukraine.

A panel of ICC judges will now consider Khan’s application for the arrest warrants.   

The charges against Netanyahu and Gallant include “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, deliberately targeting civilians in conflict", Khan said.