UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accepted the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) request to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday.
Ban notified states that are party to the ICC of the decision late Tuesday, UN spokesman reported.
“The Secretary General has ascertained that the instruments received were in due and proper form before accepting them for deposit,” the UN statement read.
On January 2, the PA presented a formal request to join the Hague-based court in a move which opens the way for them to file suit against Israeli officials for war crimes in the occupied territories.
PA sought ICC membership after the UN Security Council rejected on December 31 PA’s resolution calling for the establishment of the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders.
On January 1, PA President Mahmoud Abbas signed onto 20 international conventions, including the ICC, giving the court jurisdiction over crimes committed on Palestinian lands and opening up an unprecedented confrontation between the veteran peace negotiator and the Zionist State.
In retaliation for the ICC move, Israel announced on Saturday that it would withhold 500 million shekels ($125 million) in monthly tax funds that it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf, in a blow to Abbas’s cash-strapped government.
According to Shawan Jabarin, director of the Ramallah-based rights group al-Haq, the first case the Palestinians will refer to the ICC will be the crimes Israel committed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip starting from June 13, 2014.
Cases referred to the ICC need “a very specific geographic location and timeframe,” Jabarin told AFP, saying the same date had been selected by a UN commission probing rights violations during the Gaza war and the period leading up to it.
For 51 days in summer, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip – by air, land and sea – with the stated aim of ending rocket fire from the coastal enclave.
More than 2,310 Gazans, 70 percent of them civilians, were killed – and 10,626 injured – during unrelenting Israeli attacks on the besieged strip.
The Israeli offensive ended on August 26 with an Egypt-brokered ceasefire deal.
According to the UN, the Israeli military killed at least 495 Palestinian children in Gaza during “Operation Protective Edge.” The al-Mezan Center for Human Rights puts the number at 518, while the Palestinian Center for Human Rights puts it at 519. All three figures exceed the total number of Israelis, civilians and soldiers, killed by Palestinians in the last decade.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that 3,106 Palestinian children were injured. The UN estimates that 1,000 children will suffer a permanent disability as a result of their injury.
The UN draft
Hamas said Monday that it was “totally opposed” to Abbas’ plans to re-submit to the UN Security Council a resolution calling for the withdrawal of Israel from the 1967 territories.
“Such a step would be political foolishness which plays a dangerous game with the destiny of our nation. Mahmoud Abbas and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority should completely stop this political foolishness,” Abu Zuhri said.
Similarly, senior Hamas official, Moussa Abu Marzouq, described the draft last week, as a “document of disgrace” which undermines Palestinian rights.
“The PA sold and continues to sell Palestinian land and rights,” Abu Marzouq said.
Hamas echoes numerous pro-Palestine activists who support a one-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians would be treated equally. They argue that the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel would not be sustainable. They also believe that the two-state solution, which is the only option considered by international actors, won’t solve existing discrimination, nor erase economic and military tensions.
The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous “Balfour Declaration,” called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.