Foreign Ministry Hails ICC Examination as Positive, Important Step towards Justice

RAMALLAH, January 17, 2015 (WAFA) – Foreign Ministry hailed Saturday the opening of a preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the situation in Palestine as a positive and important step towards justice and guaranteeing respect for international law.

The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced Friday the opening of a preliminary investigation into the situation in Palestine. This formal step involves an inquiry into war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people in besieged Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank, including during the latest onslaught on the strip, which could lead to charges against Israeli officials.

According to the Ministry’s press release,  the announcement comes following the lodging by the State of Palestine of a Declaration under article 12 (3) of the Rome Statute granting jurisdiction to the Court to investigate crimes committed in the occupied territory of the State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, since 13 June 2014.

“Palestine considers this an important positive step towards achieving justice and ensuring respect for international law,” announced the Ministry.

ICC’s announcement to open this examination comes after Palestine formally joined the ICC earlier this month and acceded to the Rome Statute “to ensure that serious crimes, notably war crimes and crimes against humanity, [committed by Israel[ do not go unpunished.”

The Ministry described Palestine’s move to join the ICC as “anchored in the conviction that the principle of accountability is one of the cornerstones of justice, which achievement is indispensable to the cause of peace.”

The Ministry noted that thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed just recently, including over 2,000 in the latest Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. Serious violations of international law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including settlement activity, are ongoing throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

“By seeking to bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice, we would be honoring the victims and protecting others from becoming victims in the future,” remarked the Ministry.

Highlighting the importance of this step in ending Israel’s impunity, the Ministry stated: “The impunity enjoyed by Israel, the occupying power, has allowed it to persevere in its systematic and blatant breach of international law as well as violations of Palestinian rights. Ending this impunity is an important contribution to upholding universal values, ensuring accountability, and achieving peace.”

The Ministry called upon states to fulfill their ‘standing legal and moral obligation; including the need to “respect and ensure respect for international law, and the need to act to ensure an end to Israeli violations of international law, and an end to the Israeli occupation.” The Ministry reaffirmed in conclusion “its readiness to fully cooperate with the ICC to serve the cause of justice and the law as well as the dignity of all members of the human family.”

On January 1, President Mahmoud Abbas signed instruments of accession to 16 international treaties, shortly after the UNSC failed to approve a draft resolution on ending the Israeli occupation of the occupied Palestinian Territory by 2017.