PA files charges with UN court in bid to shutter US embassy in Jerusalem

Ramallah’s foreign minister says filing at International Court of Justice continues legal action initiated last year to reverse ‘provocative and illegal’ recognition of Jerusalem

View of the US consulate in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, shortly before the building became the American embassy in Israel, February 24, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
View of the US consulate in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, shortly before the building became the American embassy in Israel, February 24, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday officially submitted a list of charges against Washington to the UN’s International Court of Justice as it seeks a court order for the removal of the US embassy from Jerusalem.

The filing to the United Nations’ highest court in the Hague comes against a backdrop of deeply strained ties between Washington and the Palestinians, in part because of the Trump administration’s decision in December 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

“One year after the Trump administration carried out its provocative and illegal action, the State of Palestine continues to seek justice and accountability through the tools and mechanisms available to law-abiding and respecting states within the international system,” PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said in a statement carried by the official news outlet Wafa.

The Ramallah government said it would continue to fight against “illegal acts of aggression” and vowed not to “surrender to political bullying and extortion.”

The PA initially filed the suit in September, asking ICJ judges “to order the United States of America to withdraw the diplomatic mission from the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki speaking to Palestine TV, the official PA channel, on April 23, 2019. (Screenshot: Palestine TV)

Malki said the PA’s official submission to the ICJ on Wednesday was the continuation of the suit it initiated at the Hague-based court last year.

Cases heard by the ICJ can take years to complete. Its decisions are final and legally binding, but are not always adhered to.

The ICJ is the UN’s body for settling disputes between states, whereas the International Criminal Court is used as a war crimes tribunal. While the Palestinians have appealed to the ICC several times, they have rarely taken disputes to the ICJ.

The United Nations flag flutters in the wind next to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the Netherlands, August 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)

US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel triggered a joyous reaction from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nationalist government, but infuriated the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cut ties with the Trump administration following the change in longstanding US policy, saying that Washington was no longer fit to serve a Mideast peace mediator.

The Trump administration responded with a series of punitive measures, including severing assistance to the Palestinian Authority and defunding the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Trump’s administration is expected to unveil a long-awaited peace plan possibly as early as next month, but the Palestinians have already rejected it as heavily biased in favor of Israel.

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