THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court say they will study what the Palestinian Authority’s upgraded status means for its relationship with the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal.
In a one-paragraph reaction to the historic United Nations General Assembly vote, the court’s prosecution office said Friday it “will consider the legal implications of this resolution.”
In April, prosecutors rejected a Palestinian bid to get the Hague-based court to investigate possible war crimes during an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip that began in December 2008.
The Palestinian Authority attempted to empower the court to investigate by unilaterally recognizing its jurisdiction, but prosecutors said only internationally recognized states could accept jurisdiction.
A statement in September by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda suggested that the court may gain jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict automatically through the General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as a nonmember observer state.
“What we have also done is to leave the door open, and to say that if Palestine is able to pass over that hurdle [of statehood] — of course, under the [UN] General Assembly — then we will revisit what the ICC can do,” Bensouda told a Council on Foreign Relations event in Washington.
She added that the ICC may be able to begin investigating Israel on the strength of the rejected 2009 PA request to join the Rome Statute that established the court.
“Palestine made a declaration under the [Rome] Statute acknowledging the jurisdiction of the court. As you know, this is one of the ways in which we can have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute,” Bensouda said.
Israel is not a member of the 10-year-old court.