Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has signed papers for the Palestinian Authority to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), a day after a bid for independence by 2017 failed at the United Nations Security Council.
The move, which angered Israel and the United States, paves the way for the court to take jurisdiction over crimes committed in Palestinian lands and investigate the conduct of Israeli and Palestinian leaders over more than a decade of bloody conflict, Reuters reported.
“They attack us and our land every day, to whom are we to complain? The Security Council let us down — where are we to go?” Abbas told a nationally televised meeting of Palestinian leaders in Ramallah.
Aside from the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, the Palestinian leader also signed documents to join 19 other international organizations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday held an emergency consultation with senior ministers to discuss Abbas’ move.
“We expect the ICC to summarily dismiss the Palestinian Authority’s duplicitous application because the Palestinian Authority is not a state, it is an entity that is allied with a terror organization, Hamas, which commits war crimes,” he said in a statement.
Palestinian officials said US opposition on Tuesday made inevitable the defeat of a Security Council resolution calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state by late 2017.
The US and Australia voted against the bid, while eight countries voted yes and five abstained, the news agency said. The Palestinians were unable to achieve a hoped-for nine votes which would have forced the US to exercise its veto as one of the council’s five permanent members.
The US said the move was of deep concern and unhelpful to peace efforts in the region.
“It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement. “Actions like this are not the answer.”
In July and August last year, Israel and Hamas fought a war in which more than 2,100 Palestinians, 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were killed.
Palestinians are seeking a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem — lands Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War.
Momentum to recognize a Palestinian state has built up since Abbas succeeded in a bid for de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly in 2012, which made Palestinians eligible to join the ICC, the report said.
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