Saturday 06 February 2021
The International Criminal Court paved the way for preliminary investigations into potential war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
On Friday, the court ruled in The Hague that the court has jurisdiction over areas that Israel has occupied since 1967, such as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
The court added that this would allow for the possibility of taking legal action against the Israeli officers.
However, the court judges stressed that this decision does not include any statement about the legality of the border.
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, has been investigating both sides of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians over the commission of war crimes since 2015.
Bensouda said in 2019 that she was convinced that war crimes had been committed in these areas, and that there was “a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.”
The Palestinian Authority welcomed the recognition by the International Criminal Court of jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories
The Minister of Civil Affairs in the Palestinian Authority, Hussein al-Sheikh, said on his Twitter account that the court’s decision stipulates that Palestine is a member state under the Treaty of Rome and that the court has jurisdiction to consider issues related to the Palestinian territories and complaints filed by the Palestinian Authority.
The sheikh considered that the aforementioned decision “is a victory for truth, justice, freedom and moral values in the world.”
For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized this decision, and the Prime Minister’s Office said that the court has proven once again that it is a political and not a legal institution.
The office added that the court ignores the real war crimes, violating the right of democracies to defend themselves against terrorism.
Israel does not recognize the International Criminal Court.
The US State Department also criticized the decision, claiming that the court made attempts to assert territorial jurisdiction over “the Palestinian situation.”
A US State Department spokesman said in a statement, “… We do not believe that the Palestinians are eligible as a sovereign state, and therefore are not eligible for membership as a state, or to participate as a state in international organizations, entities, or conferences, including the International Criminal Court.”