ICC Initiates Examination into Alleged War Crimes in Palestine

THE HAGUE, January 16, 2015 (WAFA) –The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Friday opened a preliminary examination into alleged war crimes committed in the Palestinian Territory, announced the ICC.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision followed the Palestinian accession to the ICC’s Rome Statute and acceptance of its jurisdiction over crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 2014, according to an ICC press release published on their website.

The prosecutor’s office stressed that it will conduct its analysis in “full independence” and “impartiality”, guided strictly by the Rome Statute’s requirements in the independent and impartial exercise of its mandate, with no predetermined timeline for the decision on the preliminary examination.

A preliminary examination is not an investigation, explained ICC, but rather a process of examining available information to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.

ICC clarified that the prosecutor’s office will depend on facts and circumstances of each situation to decide “whether to continue to collect information to establish a sufficient factual and legal basis to render a determination; initiate an investigation, subject to judicial review as appropriate; or decline to initiate an investigation.”

Palestine attempted to lodge an article 12(3) declaration in ICC in 2009, but was unable to join the Rome Statue due to its then-status in the United Nations as an observer entity. Nonetheless, the recognition of Palestine as a “non-member observer state” in the UN General Assembly in November 2012 enabled it to join the Statue in an accession letter signed by President Mahmoud Abbas on January 2, 2015.

Abbas signed letters of accession to 16 international treaties, including the Rome Statute, after the UN Security Council failed to approve a draft resolution on ending the Israeli occupation of the OPT by 2017.