The International Criminal Court (ICC) has started investigating Israeli attacks on Palestinian territory, and will be granting Palestine official membership of the court. This is a key step towards being able to charge Israel for alleged war crimes. However, this decision has raised tensions with Israel and the United States and could potentially expose Palestinian officials to war crimes charges against themselves.
The ICC is based in The Hague and deals with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has stated that the Palestinians will officially join the ICC on 1 April, allowing them to place charges for alleged acts of violence.
Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina urged the Palestinians to reconsider their ICC membership, finding that filing a lawsuit against Israel ‘incredibly offensive’ and a ‘bastardising of the role of ICC’. Warning them that Palestine could ‘lose millions in US aid’ if they sue Israel in ICC.
The United States annually supplies more than $400 million to the Palestinian Authority, and any cut in these funds would cause great strain in Palestine. With more than 2,100 Palestinians killed, tens of thousands of homes in Gaza destroyed on the Palestinian side while 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed on the Israeli side. Palestinians believe Israel should be sued for their atrocities during the 50-day conflict last summer.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the situation as an ‘outrage’ accusing the court of overstepping its boundaries, stating that ‘The Palestinian Authority is not a country and therefore is not the court’s place, also according to its own rule, to carry out an examination like this.’ Nevertheless, the ICC disagrees with Netanyahu’s definition of a state and continues to refer to the territories as ‘Palestine.’
By Habiba Sallam