Palestine joins International Criminal Court

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Palestine joins International Criminal Court




Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (C) waves to the crowd during a gathering to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Fatah movement. (AFP)​


Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News
Wednesday, 31 December 2014
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday signed Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court, a day after the U.N. Security Council rejected a proposal for Palestinian statehood.

The move paves the way for the court to take jurisdiction over crimes committed in the Palestinian territories and investigate the conduct of Israeli and Palestinian leaders over more than a decade of bloody conflict.

It came a day after the U.N. Security Council rejected a draft resolution that sought a deadline for Israel to end its occupation of territories sought by the Palestinians.

Abbas had warned that if the resolution failed, he would resume a Palestinian campaign to join international organizations to put pressure on Israel.

"We want to complain. There's aggression against us, against our land. The Security Council disappointed us," Abbas said as he gathered a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank.

Israel says all disputes should be resolved through peace talks, and such actions are aimed at bypassing negotiations.

Responding to Abbas’s decision, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Palestinians have "more to fear" than his country from their newly signed request to join the International Criminal Court.

"The Palestinian Authority has more to fear, having formed a government with Hamas, a known terrorist organization and which like the Islamist State commits war crimes," Netanyahu said in a statement published by his office.

The Palestinian campaign scored a major victory in 2012 when Palestine was admitted to the U.N. General Assembly as a nonmember observer state. This upgraded status gave the Palestinians the authority to join dozens of international treaties and agencies.

Still, turning to the International Criminal Court marks a major policy shift by transforming Abbas' relations with Israel from tense to openly hostile. Abbas has been threatening to join the court since 2012, but held off under American and Israeli pressure. The Palestinians can use the court to challenge the legality of Israeli settlement construction on occupied lands and to pursue war crimes charges connected to military activity.