Erekat Urges Palestinian Factions to Sign Request for ICC Membership

Palestinian Islamist groups might sign on too, even if this means cases at the ICC against them, not just against Israel.

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Abbas, right, jointed by Erekat, signs applications to UN agencies, in Ramallah, April 1, 2014.
Abbas, right, jointed by Erekat, signs applications to UN agencies, in Ramallah, April 1, 2014.Credit: AP

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat is urging the Palestine Liberation Organization and the various Palestinian factions to sign a document supporting a State of Palestine as a member of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The signatories are members of the PLO Executive Committee, the Fatah Central Committee – including former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia – and other heads of PLO organizations such as the Popular Front and the Democratic Front. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has also signed, sources in Ramallah say. Malki will visit the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands on Tuesday.

According to the source, Erekat said that if Hamas and Islamic Jihad did not sign, he would demand that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas order the signing of the Rome Statute of 2002, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court.

Abbas is known to staunchly oppose joining the ICC, both out of concern that steps would be taken against Palestinians and because of the strong opposition of the United States and European countries.

Since the United Nations accepted Palestine as a nonmember state in 2012, Palestinian human rights organizations and political groups such as Mustafa Barghouti’s Palestinian National Initiative have urged membership in the ICC. They say this will help end what they consider Israel’s impunity.

The many civilian deaths and destruction in Gaza have bolstered the Fatah grouping that has long supported joining the criminal court. But representatives of a number of European countries have expressed concerns about the latest move, a Palestinian diplomatic source said.

According to that person, the effort clashes with a conference of donor nations to rebuild Gaza due on September 1. The source said the signers of the document saw no contradiction between the two efforts.