Israel Punishes Spain, Slovenia, Belgium over UN Gaza Vote

22 May, 2018, 20:56 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shown recovering in hospital and reading a newspaper on the back page of which is a cartoon portraying an Israeli soldier poisoning a Palestinian baby

The Palestinian foreign minister has called on the global criminal court to immediately open an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, and apartheid. "This step [Palestine's call to the ICC] is meant to ensure that those most responsible for these crimes are held accountable for their actions without further delay", the ministry stated.

In a summary report of the court's activities for 2017, the ICC said it had progressed in its work to determine "whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation".

But Israel is not a member of the ICC, and the Israeli foreign ministry on Tuesday said it "takes a severe view" of the referral, which it called "a cynical step without legal validity".

Bensouda vowed last week that she was watching the unrest in Gaza closely and would "take any action warranted" to prosecute crimes.

The PA has pushed the ICC to open such a case since it submitted its first files against Israel in June 2015, shortly after it signed onto the Rome Statute in December 2014.

Should the court's chief prosecutor, now Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, agree to take up an investigation of Israel, the case faces a series of time-consuming hurdles.

"Palestinians have raised their voices in peaceful demand of their basic human rights and an end to the closure and blockade of Gaza that maintains their dire living conditions; Israel responded by deploying snipers to fire onto unarmed protesters", said Younis.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki speaks during a press conference at the International Criminal Court
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki speaks during a press conference at the International Criminal Court

The request could give the court a wider remit to investigate alleged crimes in the region.

The referral sought an investigation into Israeli policies in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip since the state of Palestine accepted the ICC's jurisdiction in 2014, he said.

And so, the process that began on April 1, 2015, when the Palestinian Authority requested to join the ICC, has paved the way for its ability to sue Israel three years later for "war crimes".

"The ICC lacks jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian issue, since Israel is not a member of the court and because the Palestinian Authority is not a state", the Israeli ministry added in a statement. Most notably, this referral will cover "crimes associated with the Israeli colonial settlement regime in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem".

The Palestinians appear to have an especially strong case in the matter of settlements.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership of Fatah has frozen ties with the White House over its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In territory between Jordan River and Green Line, which set borders before 1967, some 400,000 Israelis have been installed today in 131 "authorized" sites and in or 97 declared "illegal" by Israeli Government itself. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement are campaigning in various forms of non-violent measures against Israel until it complies with the precepts of global law.

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