Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Palestinians urge ICC to open full probe into 'Israeli war crimes'

Riyad Al-Maliki Riyad Al Maliki
Ellis Copeland | 22 May, 2018, 21:27

Foreign Minister Riad Malki asked the court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to look into two primary issues: Israeli settlement construction and Israeli military activity in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israel dismissed Mr Malki's move as a "cynical step without legal validity".

Alex Whiting, a professor at Harvard Law School and former ICC prosecutor, said the Palestinian referral would have a "real effect".

"The colonial regime practices forced displacement of Palestinian people and illegal transfer of Israeli citizens to a territory under occupation to perpetuate ir presence (.) What includes expansion of settlements and ir linked infrastructures, such as wall (barrier of separation), and blockade of Gaza Strip, "ensures a communiqué prior to denunciation of Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs". Tuesday's referral could speed up a decision on whether to open a full-blown investigation, which could ultimately lead to the indictment of high-ranking Israelis.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said that by moving USA embassy, Trump had "canceled [the U.S.] role in the peace process" and called the building itself a "new settlement" in Jerusalem.

At least 119 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel since mass demonstrations started on 30 March, according to authorities in Gaza. In response, an IDF tank fired on a Hamas observation post. The army said there were no injuries on the Israeli side, and no additional details were immediately available.

Israel rejected Tuesday's move as "legally invalid", saying the court lacks jurisdiction because the Palestinian Authority is not a state and Israel abides by worldwide law.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of carrying out "massacres" of unarmed civilians.

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The State of Palestine formally became a member of the ICC in April 2015, giving the court jurisdiction over crimes committed in the territory since June 13, 2014 - including the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza.

The display of animous towards the delegation came exactly one week after the Trump administration officially moved the USA embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem-a move seen as a direct assault on the so-called "peace process" and the demand that East Jerusalem ultimately become the future capital of an independent Palestinian state.

On May 19, The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in a session voted to begin a probe in the recent deadly Israel-Palestine clashes in Gaza.

"Israel acts in accordance with independent and thorough judicial review mechanisms, befitting a democratic state, and in accordance with worldwide law", the Israeli statement said.

While the ICC can indict suspects, it has no police force and has to rely on co-operation from member states to enforce arrest warrants.

"The Palestinians continue to exploit the court for political purposes, rather than work towards resuming the peace process with Israel", the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Palestinians believe the settlement case to be their strongest to take to the ICC. Over 600,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, a number that would be extremely hard, if not impossible, to uproot.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem after capturing it in 1967 and considers it an inseparable part of its capital. 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. Since Jordan has relinquished its claim to the territory, Israel says the area is disputed, and its fate should be decided through negotiations.

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