Israeli officials are furious after Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague, to investigate Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank and alleged “Israeli crimes” against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian request is liable to authorize the court to investigate crimes that the IDF allegedly has committed from 2014 onwards. “On behalf of the Palestinian people, the State of Palestine exercised its right as state party to the Rome Statute to refer the situation of Palestine to the International Criminal Court for immediate investigation,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyal Al-Maliki said.
The Palestinian top diplomat further described the move as a “test” to international legal mechanisms, adding that the Palestinian leadership ‘will not allow injustice to be Palestine’s destiny.” “Failing to afford the Palestinian people the same rights to justice and redress that all other people are entitled to will undermine this order and these mechanisms. Further delaying justice for Palestinian victims is also tantamount to denial of justice, and that is unacceptable. We will not allow injustice to be Palestine’s destiny,” Al-Maliki said.
The International Criminal Court in the Hague has the authority to hear cases of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, committed on territories belonging to the 123 countries that have signed the Rome Statute of 1998. That said, while Israel is not a signatory of the treaty, the fact that the Palestinians have signed the Rome Statute, the International body could target Israelis for alleged crimes on lands the international community views as disputed Palestinian lands. The Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem responded with a statement to the move, saying: “The Palestinians’ appeal to The Hague is a cynical act that has no legal validity. The Palestinian Authority has continued to abuse the court for political purposes instead of acting to advance political negotiations. It is ludicrous that the Palestinians have done that, while they continue to incite to terrorism and to use children and women as human shields to camouflage their violent attempts to harm the security of Israel’s citizens.” The Israeli Foreign Ministry further urged the “court and the prosecutor not to capitulate to Palestinian pressure and not to allow the Palestinians either to further politicize the court or to divert it from its original mandate,” emphasizing that in contrast to Palestinian allegations, “Israel acts in keeping with independent and thorough review and legal review mechanisms, as a democratic country should, and in keeping with international law.”