The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine. The Court has accepted its jurisdiction over “alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014.” The decision has angered Israel and the US.
The Court explains that this doesn’t mean to open now an investigation. It means that they will check the facts to see if there are grounds to open an investigation that would include the battle in Gaza last summer who ended with more than 2,200 Palestinian and 70 Israelis killed. The ICC probe will examine the actions of all parties.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the decision is outrageous and stated that “the Palestinian Authority is not a country and therefore it is not the court’s place, also according to its own rules, to carry out an examination like this.”
But the International Criminal Court includes in his decision a legal analysis in which explains that the Palestine has been recognised as a non-member observer State by de UN General Assembly, so it’s a State, and as such on 6 January 2015, the UN Secretary General, acting in his capacity as depositary, accepted Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute, and Palestine became the 123rd State Party to the ICC. It was welcomed as such by the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute.
The US strongly criticised the decision of the ICC. Jeff Rathke, of the State Department said in a statement that “it is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC. The place to resolve the differences between the parties is through direct negotiations, not unilateral actions by either side. We will continue to oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive to the cause of peace”.
The ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that her Office will conduct its analysis of the situation ‘in full independence and impartiality.’
In a news release she explains that “there are no timelines provided in the Rome Statute for a decision on a preliminary examination,” adding that depending on the facts and circumstances of each situation, the Prosecutor’s Office will 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.