Senior Fatah Member: ICC Indictment Against Israel Is Ready for Submission

Fatah Central Committee Member Mohammed Ashtiya says Gaza reconstruction would cost $7.8 billion and take five years if blockade is lifted.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki (left) at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki (left) at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.Credit: AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinians have an indictment against Israel ready and waiting to file with the International Criminal Court, along the documents needed to join more than 500 other international organizations, senior Fatah official Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Thursday.

Shtayyeh, a member of Fatah’s central committee and former negotiator with Israel, told a press conference in Ramallah that the Palestinian Authority would feel free to apply to the ICC if the international community, first and foremost the United States, doesn’t convince Israel to implement a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines.

The PA has repeatedly threatened to apply to the ICC if Washington rejected PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ new diplomatic plan for achieving such a solution. Asked by Haaretz how serious this threat was, Shtayyeh replied, “We’re telling the Israelis and the international community that we are very serious. This time, we need a timetable for ending the occupation, not negotiations, because the cycle of negotiations with no time limit has already proven itself a failure.”

Shtayyeh didn’t say when the Palestinians would apply to the ICC, but said it would probably happen in another few months.

“We’re not in a situation of setting a deadline or making an ultimatum,” he said. “We’re following developments in the region and the world, and therefore, we’ll wait for answers from the international community. But I believe that by November-December, the picture should be clearer.”

He also said the PA’s diplomatic pressure was having an impact on Israel, declaring that there has been a substantive change in how the world, and especially Europe, relates to Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is in distress, and he embarked on the war in Gaza in an effort to get rid of the international pressure, but in any case, the pressure on him and on Israel in general is growing,” Shtayyeh asserted.

On Wednesday, Palestinian negotiators led by Saeb Erekat met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to present Abbas’ new plan. Shtayyeh said Kerry mainly listened and asked to continue the discussions, including via a meeting with Abbas. But he said Kerry gave no hint of Washington’s attitude toward the plan.

One of the main purposes of Thursday’s press conference was to present data compiled by the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, which Shtayyeh heads, about the damage suffered by the Gaza Strip during this summer’s war. He said that reconstructing Gaza would cost $7.8 billion and could be finished in five years, but only if all the border crossings are fully opened. If they aren’t, it’s impossible to estimate how long the reconstruction will take, he said.

Palestinians are hoping the raise the requisite funds at a conference of donor nations slated to take place in Cairo next month.

Shtayyeh said that 9,232 buildings in Gaza were completely destroyed, including 71 mosques, and another 9,460 damaged, including 205 mosques. As a result, some 1.8 million tons of rubble will have to be cleared, though some of this rubble will be used in the reconstruction work.

Aside from reconstruction and the opening of the border crossings, the PECDAR report said, Gaza needs a desalination plant, a seaport, an airport, and a safe passage between the Strip and the West Bank in order to survive. All these demands will be raised in Cairo during the upcoming talks with Israel on a more permanent cease-fire arrangement in Gaza, but the most critical are the safe passage and the opening of the crossings. Without these, it will be impossible to rehabilitate Gaza, the report said.

Another issue that Ramallah considers critical is strictly internal: Even though Fatah and Hamas have ostensibly formed a unity government, in practice, this government isn’t functioning in Gaza and there is little cooperation between the two parties. Earlier this week, Fatah’s central committee set up a special five-member task force to negotiate with Hamas in an effort to resolve this problem.

The rubble of the Omar Ibn Abdul Aziz mosque in Gaza City, which was destroyed on August 25.Credit: AP

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