Palestinians ask ICC to open full probe into Israeli war crimes

Ismael LynchMay 22, 2018

The Palestinian foreign minister on Tuesday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) "to open an immediate investigation" into allegations of war crimes and apartheid against the Palestinian people. "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.

Israel, which is not an ICC member, says the court does not have jurisdiction.

But Israel is not a member of the ICC, and the Israeli foreign ministry on Tuesday said it "takes a severe view" of the referral, which it called "a cynical step without legal validity".

Last week, Bensouda announced that the Court's officials were watching the unrest in Gaza closely and would "take any action warranted" to prosecute crimes.

Should the court's chief prosecutor, now Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, agree to take up an investigation of Israel, the case faces a series of time-consuming hurdles.

On May 19, The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in a session voted to begin a probe in the recent deadly Israel-Palestine clashes in Gaza.

The request could give the court a wider remit to investigate alleged crimes in the region.

Last week another worldwide body, the United Nations Human Rights Council, considered a resolution to "urgently dispatch an independent, global commission of inquiry" to investigate "all alleged violations and abuses" of civilians since the latest Gaza protests began on March 30.

"The State of Palestine stresses the importance of achieving justice for the victims of crimes, reaffirms its commitment to cooperate fully with the Court and maintains that ensuring justice and accountability is crucial the integrity and credibility of the ICC itself".

The ICC has been conducting a preliminary probe since 2015 into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories, including Israel's settlement policy and crimes allegedly committed by both sides in the 2014 Gaza conflict.

If the ICC were to show intellectual honesty in this case, it could end up ruling that the Israeli settlements are not a violation of the convention and therefore not at all a war crime.

Israel has been building settler units across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (al-Quds), since 1967, when it occupied the territory during an all-out war.

The decision to file a case at the ICC is part of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's wider diplomatic campaign against Israel that has sought to "internationalise the struggle".

Under worldwide law it is illegal to transfer populations out of or into occupied territory.

Israel claims the West Bank is not occupied because it was captured from Jordan, not the Palestinians, and Jordan does not make a claim to the territory.

The renewed PLO push at the ICC, is just one of a number of Palestinian activities against Israel on the worldwide stage over the last five days.

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