Palestine mulls joining ICC after UN defeat

Palestine mulls joining ICC after UN defeat

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 12:13 pm

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is to apply immediately to join the International Criminal Court, senior officials said Wednesday, after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution on ending the Israeli occupation.

Abbas will sign the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, later Wednesday, kicking off the process of joining the Hague-based court, where the Palestinians could sue Israeli officials for war crimes in the occupied territories, several top aides told AFP.

Such a move is strongly opposed by Washington and Israel with a spokesman warning that joining the court would expose the Palestinians themselves to prosecution.

The Palestinian leader will also sign 15 other international conventions on Wednesday, the officials said.

At 1630 GMT, Abbas will hold talks with his leadership to discuss the way forward after the abortive overnight vote at the 15-member Security Council.

“The main subject of the leadership meeting will be joining several international organisations, including the International Criminal Court,” chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

“President Abbas is going to sign many international conventions, including the Rome Statute which will allow the Palestinians to join the ICC,” said another senior Palestinian official.

Based in The Hague, the ICC can prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed since July 1, 2002, when the Rome Statute came into force.

According to the ICC’s official website, last updated in May 2013, the Rome Treaty has been ratified by 122 states.

The court can only pursue an individual if crimes were committed on the territory of a state party — one that signed and ratified the Rome Statute — or by a citizen of such a state.

Israel has signed but not ratified the treaty.

Israel warned that joining the court would also expose the Palestinians themselves to prosecution for war crimes.

“The Palestinians will themselves be judged by this court which will show the world the nature of Palestinian terrorism and the war crimes committed in the name of the Palestinian Authority,” foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP.

Tuesday’s vote defeat came after a three-month campaign by the Palestinians at the United Nations to win support for the resolution that would have set a timeframe for ending the Israeli occupation.

Council heavyweights China, France and Russia were among eight countries voting in favour, while the United States and Australia voted against. Five others abstained, among them Britain, but also Nigeria which had been expected to support the resolution.

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