Palestine applied to join the International Criminal Court yesterday in an attempt to try Israel at The Hague for alleged atrocities carried out during the last conflict as war crimes.
The move, which comes days after the UN rejected a resolution by Palestinians to secure their own statehood, has prompted Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to vow unspecified “retaliatory steps”.
The US has warned of “implications” of escalating proceedings to the ICC, claiming that such action would only set back the aspirations of Palestinian people for statehood. Its move follows the latest of more than 40 rejections for the Palestinians' bid for self-determination since 1975.
The ICC considers itself “the court of last resort” in investigations of alleged crimes against humanity and it will take 60 days for the application to be decided upon.
After submitting the documents to become the 123rd state to join the ICC, based in the Netherlands, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said the Palestinians are seeking to raise alleged crimes committed by Israel, including during last summer’s war in Gaza.
Palestine and Israel have been locked in a dispute over territory for more than 66 years and the most recent war ended in August after 50 days and with at least 2,100 deaths of Palestinian people and 72 Israelis, of which most were soldiers.
Mr Mansour added that they will also seek justice for Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory while adding that it constitutes “a war crime” under the Rome statute. The potential investigation has been described by The Guardian as a “double-edged sword” as the court will also scrutinise Palestinian action, including that of Hamas, as well as of the Israeli Defence Force.
Mr Mansour claimed that Palestinians are “not afraid of the judgement of the law, especially international law.”
“This is a very significant step,” Mansour told reporters. “It is an option that we are seeking in order to seek justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power.”
The resolution bid that was rejected after failing to receive the required agreements from at least nine of the 15 member states of the UN Security Council. It had stipulated a demand for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territory within two to three years and to make East Jerusalem the sole capital of the state of Palestine.
Mansour also delivered documents to the UN yesterday requesting that Palestine join 15 other UN conventions, treaties and agreements.
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