Middle East, News

Palestine submits file to International Criminal Court over 'Israeli war crimes'

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The state of Palestine officially submitted documents to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Thursday accusing Israel of war crimes and illegal settlement construction on Palestinian territory.

The move, made possible after Palestinians joined the court in April, comes days after a United Nations report said both Israel and Palestinian resistance faction Hamas may have committed war crimes during Israel’s bloody military offensive last July.

The file delivered to the ICC on Thursday contains claims regarding the Israeli operation in Gaza last year and the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki handed the file to ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Benso at the court’s headquarters in The Hague.

Al-Maliki said his government wants to see Israel tried before the international arena.

Responding to the development on Thursday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon called the move “manipulation” and a “trap”.

This is a Palestinian attempt to manipulate and politicize the judicial mechanisms of the ICC,” said Nahshon. “We hope that the prosecutor will not fall in that trap.”

On April 1, Palestine officially joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) after The Hague-based tribunal approved its accession bid.

Palestine officially joined the Rome Statute, an automatic procedure after the passage of two months since the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) filed its membership request with the United Nations.

Palestine had become the court’s 123rd member country.

The ICC was established in 1998 as a court of last resort to prosecute the most heinous offenses — such as war crimes and crimes against humanity — in cases where national court systems failed.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been boiling for decades. Major powers, including the U.S. international organizations such as the U.N. call for a two-state solution, typically based on the borders before the 1967 Six-Day War.

In July and August of 2014, more than 2,100 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were killed and 11,000 injured — mostly women and children — during Israel’s 51-day Operation Protective Edge.

For decades, Israel has continued to misappropriate Palestinian land in the West Bank on which it continues to build Jewish-only settlements in breach of international law.

The number of Israelis living in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem is estimated to be over 500,000.

Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967.

Palestinian negotiators insist that Israel’s illegal settlement construction must end before stalled peace talks — which broke down one year ago — can resume.

Resource: Daily Sabah, June 25, 2015

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