The International Criminal Court has ruled that the Palestinian territories fall within its jurisdiction, paving the way for it to investigate alleged “war crimes”.
The Attorney General, Fatou Bensouda, had expressed her belief that there is support for allegations of “war crimes” in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
The Israeli Prime Minister condemned the court’s decision, and the United States expressed “serious concerns” about it. On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority described the day of the decision as “historic.”
The International Criminal Court clarified that it “does not settle a border dispute under international law nor prejudice the issue of any future borders,” but rather “for the sole purpose of determining the scope of the court’s territorial jurisdiction.”
According to the court’s decision, its jurisdiction includes “the lands occupied by Israel since 1967, meaning Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, “The court has proven once again that it is a political body and not a judicial institution.” He added that the decision undermines “the right of democratic regimes to defend themselves against terrorism.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh welcomed the decision, saying that it is “a victory for justice and humanity, for the values of truth, justice and freedom, and fairness for the blood of the victims,” according to what was reported by the Palestinian News Agency, “Wafa”.
The US State Department stated that Israel is not bound by the court because it is not a member.
“We have serious concerns about the International Criminal Court’s attempts to exercise jurisdiction over Israeli individuals. We have always taken the position that the court’s jurisdiction be limited to countries that are approved or referred to by the United Nations Security Council,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
However, Human Rights Watch described the court’s decision as “pivotal,” and said, “It is time for the perpetrators of grave violations, both Israelis and Palestinians, to face justice.”
“The decision of the International Criminal Court gives victims of major crimes, at last, some real hope for justice,” Belkis Jarrah, director of the organization’s international justice department, said in a statement.
In 2019, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, called for a full investigation, after a preliminary investigation that lasted five years since the 2014 war in Gaza.
She said at the time that she could open an investigation based on her authority, but she wanted to ask the International Criminal Court about the area under her jurisdiction.