Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for war crimes allegedly committed during the 50-day war with Hamas and other Gaza terror groups last summer.
In the request filed with the Dutch Embassy Thursday morning, Abbas asked the court in The Hague to investigate Israel retroactively for alleged war crimes starting from June 13, 2014 — a day after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by a Hamas cell in the West Bank, an unnamed NGO worker told Haaretz.
The petition to the court was submitted after Abbas signed the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, on Wednesday evening, and filed a request to become a member state. That request will be processed over the coming weeks.
Earlier on Thursday, the Palestinians submitted letters of accession to 20 international treaties, including the Rome Statute, to Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, James W. Rawley, the official Palestinian Wafa news agency reported..
A day earlier, the UN Security Council rejected a resolution calling for Palestinian statehood and Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.
Israeli analysts have highlighted a long and highly complex process ahead before the ICC could move to file indictments against Israeli figures for alleged war crimes.
According to the Palestinian NGO worker who spoke to Haaretz, top Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials said they are willing to risk prosecution by the international court, provided an official investigation into Israel’s alleged war crimes is conducted.
During the Gaza war, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat signed top Palestinian officials on a document stating they agree to Palestine joining the ICC, knowing that in response Israel might file a counter-complaint for war crimes against Palestinians.
Palestinians have unsuccessfully filed complaints against Israel to the international court in the past, but it had no jurisdiction over the territory where the alleged crimes occurred.
Palestine was unanimously upgraded to “observer status” at the ICC in December.
In a conversation with Haaretz, a PLO official underscored the importance of joining the court, saying that official membership would allow Palestinian civilian bodies to file complaints against Israel without having to wait for the bureaucracy of the Palestinian Authority.
Erekat said Israeli settlement construction and expansion will be at the top of the Palestinian agenda at the ICC proceedings, Wafa reported.