The Palestinian Authority decided Wednesday night to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as a first step to joining the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Sources in Ramallah told Army Radio that the Palestinian Authority was waiting for legal opinion after which it would join the 139 countries that are signatories to the statute
The move would allow the Palestinian Authority to file suit against Israel for “war crimes” during Operation Protective Edge, as it has repeatedly threatened to do, but it would also be exposing itself to similar allegations.
Earlier this month, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization warned that the Palestinians were ready to join the ICC “sooner rather than later.”
“We have a decision to accede to the Rome Statute,” PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi told The Times of Israel. “All we need to do is send the letter… If this assault continues and doesn’t stop, you can see it sooner rather than later.”
Ashrawi refused at the time to say when exactly the Palestinians leadership would submit the application, a move that would greatly anger Jerusalem and probably be met with harsh retaliatory measures.
“Actually, we’re trying to do things in an incremental way at this point. We are working on the legal aspects of cases and lawsuits, and so on,” Ashrawi said. “We gauge things as we go along.” Ramallah is unafraid of Israel countersuing Palestinians, she asserted, refusing to state whether she considers indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli cities a war crime.
Earlier this month, Palestinian envoy to the United Nations Ibrahim Kraishi said the “Palestinian weakness” in terms of international law is the indiscriminate firing of rockets at Israel.
“The missiles that are now being launched against Israel, each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets,” Kraishi told Palestinian Authority TV, in a clip distributed and translated by watchdog group MEMRI.
Ashrawi said that the Palestinian leadership has nothing to be afraid of. “International law makes a distinction between self-defense and occupation and aggression,” she said. “We are a people under occupation, and there is a real difference between a people a under occupation and an occupying power. We do have legal counsel, don’t worry.”