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Monday, 23 December 2019 09:12

Chief ICC prosecutor signals investigation to probe "situation in Palestine"

Palestine welcomed on Friday an announcement of the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that signals an investigation into "the situation in Palestine" after five years of examination.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), hailed the announcement a "confirmation that the ICC has jurisdiction" over territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"The decision announced by the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor is a positive and encouraging step that brings us closer to the opening of a criminal investigation into the crimes committed in Palestine in accordance with the Rome Statute," he said.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the treaty that established the ICC.

Urging the ICC to "move immediately toward the investigation," Erekat slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks on the ICC's decision.

Israel has "put itself above international law, with a system of laws aimed at normalizing the situation of perpetual occupation, colonial-settlements and annexation," he noted.

Meanwhile, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO's executive committee, also commended the ICC chief prosecutor's announcement as "a positive step forward."

"Today is an important reminder that Palestine's determined and principled steps within the international system are significant means of protection for the Palestinian people and the standing of international law as universally applicable," she said.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry announced its readiness to participate in the upcoming judicial process.

The ICC "has jurisdiction over the occupied territory of the State of Palestine, given that Palestine is a state party to the Rome Statute and that the State of Palestine has granted the ICC the jurisdiction to look into crimes committed in its territory," the ministry said.

The announcement means the ICC prosecutor "is about to start an investigation into ... the war crimes committed by Israel, the occupying power, in the territory of Palestine," said Omar Awadallah, head of public administration for UN human rights organizations at the Palestinian Foreign Ministry.

The ICC prosecutor "directly addresses the crime of settlements, wilful and extrajudicial killings including targeting protected civilians during the peaceful March of Return rally in Gaza," Awadallah told Xinhua.

Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, announced on Friday that following a thorough, independent and objective assessment of all reliable information available, the preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine "has concluded with the determination that all the statutory criteria under the Rome Statute for the opening of an investigation have been met."

Palestine joined the ICC in January 2015. Under the Rome Statute, Palestine should enjoy sovereignty over its territory including East Jerusalem along the 1967 borders. However, Israel is not a party to the Rome treaty.

Darul Ihsan Media Desk

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