Palestinian foreign minister calls on ICC to probe Israeli crimes
Palestinian foreign minister calls on ICC to probe Israeli crimes
Palestinian minister delivers Israel 'war crimes' referral to ICC
22 May, 2018, 20:57
The Palestinians on Tuesday asked the International Criminal Court to open an immediate investigation into Israeli practices in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip - setting off a process that they hope will culminate with war crimes accusations against Israeli leaders. "This step [Palestine's call to the ICC] is meant to ensure that those most responsible for these crimes are held accountable for their actions without further delay", the ministry stated. He did not say anything upon entering but after submitting the request he said it would be an important test of the ICC's accountability.
Israel called the move "cynical" and claimed the request to the ICC has no legal validity. "This referral is Palestine's test to the worldwide mechanism of accountability and respect for global law". The court's prosecutors launched an initial investigation into allegations against Israel when the Palestinians first joined the court in 2015.
In a statement issued after the Palestinians called for an immediate investigation, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Tuesday noted that she has been conducting a preliminary probe since January 2015 to establish whether she should open a full-blown investigation.
Hundreds of Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrated on Saturday evening in Haifa in solidarity with Gaza, an AFP reporter said.
Referring to the Israeli army's killing of 111 Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip since March 30, Shakir told Al Jazeera: "The calculated killings of over 100 Palestinians in demonstrations in Gaza highlights the importance of the International Criminal Court prosecutor opening a formal investigation into serious crimes in Palestine".
The Hebrew Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains that ICC lacks jurisdiction over Israeli-Palestinian conflict, since Israel is not a member of Rome Statute and because Palestinian Authority is not a state, but a mere observer country in United Nations. The ICC recognizes "Palestine" as a member state.
Any charges would need to be enforced by member states, as the court does not have a law enforcement arm and can only indict suspects. More than 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish outposts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements that are illegal under the worldwide law, which prohibits construction on occupied land.
The Palestinians believe the settlement case to be their strongest to take to the ICC. In territory between Jordan River and Green Line, which set borders before 1967, some 400,000 Israelis have been installed today in 131 "authorized" sites and in or 97 declared "illegal" by Israeli Government itself. In 2004, the United Nations' highest judicial organ, the International Court of Justice, ruled in an advisory opinion that the settlements breached international law.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership of Fatah has frozen ties with the White House over its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
It notes that in the case of Gaza, for instance, it uprooted all settlements there when it withdrew in 2005.
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