Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague on Thursday to investigate accusations Israel committed war crimes “committed in Palestine” since June 13, 2014.
The declaration was signed by Abbas on Thursday morning according to a local source who spoke with Haaretz, one day after he signed the Rome Statute, enabling the PA to join the ICC.
Early Thursday morning, officials submitted the Rome Statute document as well as letters of accession signed Wednesday by Abbas entering the PA into 20 additional international treaties, according to the WAFA news agency.
The flurry of signatures followed Tuesday’s rejection by the United Nations Security Council of a resolution calling for recognition of the PA as a sovereign state and the withdrawal of Israel by 2017 from all post-1967 territories.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Wednesday in a brief statement that Abbas would cause more harm than good for his own people, should he attempt a criminal indictment of Israel at the ICC.
Past similar attempts have all failed because neither party was a member of the Court, which has no jurisdiction over nations who are not a signatories to the Rome Statute.
While Abbas signed the Rome Statute on behalf of the PA unity government, Israel has not joined the Court – and thus the ICC still legally has no jurisdiction over the Jewish State.
Whether in fact the Court now has jurisdiction over any geographic area conquered by Israel in 1967 – including the territory of the Palestinian Authority — is a murky question that will undoubtedly be debated among international attorneys for some time.
Some of those areas — such as the Golan Heights and the parts of Jerusalem restored to Israel’s capital during the war — have been formally annexed by the State of Israel. Members of the international community do not recognize this status, however.
If the signature by Abbas validates the jurisdiction of the Court over PA territory – which includes parts of Judea and Samaria as well as all of Gaza – it raises another question.
Perhaps a member nation – Canada, the United States or any other who has lost a citizen to PA Arab terrorism – may launch a counter-suit.
What then might be the result of a petition to the Court to investigate “Palestine’s” record on war crimes and crimes against humanity instead?