Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Palestinian Authority (PA) will present cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israeli officials after it joins the organization, according to chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon confirmed on Tuesday that the Palestinians will be joining the ICC in April.
Erekat told Asharq Al-Awsat that the PA was preparing two cases to submit to the ICC following membership on April 1. One would be a case relating to Israel’s latest assault on Gaza in July–August 2014, which killed more than 2,000 Palestinians.
The other relates to Israel’s continued building of illegal settlements in the West Bank from 1968 to the present day, despite the ICC saying on Wednesday its jurisdiction would go back only to June 13, 2014, which would cover the latest Gaza war, but the building of settlements only from that date.
“Today we are saying to the whole world that the time when Israel could act with impunity and carry out its invasion without incurring any cost is over—and it will never return,” Erekat said.
The PA will now be able to bring cases to the ICC to prosecute Israeli officials, including politicians and military figures, for crimes committed on Palestinian lands. Israel itself is not a member of the ICC but Israeli individuals can still be prosecuted.
Israel responded to the Palestinians’ bid to join the ICC by deciding to freeze tax revenues to the PA totaling 125 million US dollars a month.
The US, meanwhile, opposed the decision to grant membership to the Palestinians at the ICC, saying they could not join the organization since they did not have a state.
The UN Security Council rejected on December 30 a resolution submitted by the Palestinians for the establishment of an independent state and an end to the Israeli occupation by 2017. The vote fell one short of the nine required for adoption by the 15-member council. The US and Australia voted ‘No’ while five countries abstained.
Erekat said the PA had completed all procedures to join the ICC on Friday, including presenting documents to the UN confirming its intention to join the ICC’s Rome Statute and a number of other international treaties.
“We say to the international community, if you want this conflict to end you must accept . . . international decisions and international law,” he said.
The aim of any peace process between the Palestinians and Israel, he said, must be based on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital as Jerusalem according to the 1967 borders, before Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the Six-Day War.