Palestine to officially join ICC

Published April 1st, 2015 - 06:31 GMT

The PLO will formally gain membership of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday with the aim of pursuing Israelis for war crimes.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyadh al-Malki will participate in a ceremony at the International Criminal Court's headquarters in The Hague, for the occasion.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' legal adviser Hassan al-Ouri told Ma'an that the Palestinian bid for the ICC included a request to open an investigation into Israeli crimes during the latest assault on Gaza, as well as into settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.

He said that a committee is preparing files for the two issues, which will be reviewed and approved before being submitted to the ICC.

"Punishing those who committed crimes against our people is a must," al-Ouri added, "In addition, this will be a deterrent for Israel, to prevent it from committing these crimes again."

Fatah central committee member Jamal Muheisen told Ma'an that Israel could be prosecuted for a series of issues, emphasizing that "Settlement activity is considered a war crime under the international law, and we will hold Israel accountable for it."

The files brought to the ICC will not be limited to Gaza Strip, Fatah central committee member Nabil Shaath told Ma'an, but also the West Bank and Jerusalem, including the murder of teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was burnt to death by Israelis last July.

The decision to bring Israel to the ICC came as part of ongoing efforts by Palestinian leadership to pursue action against Israel through international measures, partially as a result of the continual failure of peace talks to bring any relief to the more than 60-year Israeli occupation.

As Palestinian leadership originally moved to join the Hague-based court on January 2, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said, "Palestine has and will continue to use all legitimate tools within its means in order to defend itself against Israeli colonization and other violations of international law."

Israeli authorities retaliated to the move, cutting off millions of dollars in monthly tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and is required to handover according to the Oslo Agreements. The punitive response to the PA's ICC move drew heavy international criticism.

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