Palestinians Submit Request to Join International Criminal Court

Palestinian ambassador confirms Thursday's report in Haaretz that the Palestinians have asked the ICC to probe alleged Israeli war crimes during last summer's Gaza war.

AFP

Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour submitted on Friday evening to the UN offices in New York the request to join 22 international treaties, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court at the Hague. The documents were signed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday.

The process of joining the ICC takes 90 days from the moment the documents are submitted.

After submitting the documents, Mansour said that the Palestinian ambassador at The Hague submitted a letter of complaint over alleged Israeli war crimes during last summer's conflict in Gaza. Mansour's comments confirm Haaretz's report on Thursday on the request for an investigation.

Mansour added that the Palestinians are not concerned over the possibility that joining the international tribunal will make them vulnerable to counter-complaints by Israel and others. "We are not afraid of the judgment of the international law," he told reporters in New York.

The Ambassador said the Palestinians intend to bring to the court the topic of Israel's settlements, which he called "a war crime." He said the Palestinians are also considering issuing retroactive complaints over actions committed by Israel in the past.

Meanwhile, Abbas has instructed PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki to request clarifications from the seven nations that declined to vote in favor of the Palestinian proposal to the UNSC, which called for peace with Israel within a year and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories by late 2017.

The UN spokesman confirmed that the document were recieved and were being reviewed. "The Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations in New York has transmitted to the Secretariat copies of documents relating to the accession of Palestine to 16 international conventions and treaties in respect of which the Secretary-General performs depositary functions. These include the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The original versions of these documents were delivered on 1 January 2015 to the Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the PLO and the PA. The documents are being reviewed with a view to determining the appropriate next steps."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week he expects the International Criminal Court in The Hague to reject the "hypocritical application."

"The Palestinian Authority is an entity that maintains an alliance with a terrorist organization, Hamas, which commits war crimes," Netanyahu added. "The state of Israel is a lawful country with a moral army that enforces all international laws. We will protect IDF soldiers as they protect us."