Palestinians welcome ICC investigation into Israeli war crimes

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Bethlehem commemoration for 20-year-old Palestinian nurse Rouzan al-Najaar shot dead by Israeli forces on the Gaza border in 2018

THE Foreign Ministry on Saturday welcomed the announcement by the Prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) on opening an investigation into the situation in Palestine and Israeli crimes against the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

‘The State of Palestine welcomes the announcement of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on concluding the preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine and the Prosecutor’s determination that all statutory requirements for opening an investigation have been met,’ said the ministry in a statement.
‘Palestine also takes note of the Prosecutor’s request for a ruling from Pre-trial Chamber I, under article 19(3) of the Rome Statute, on the matter of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the situation in Palestine. Palestine welcomes this step as a long overdue step to move the process forward towards an investigation, after nearly five long and difficult years of preliminary examination,’ it added.
‘We view this step as reflecting the Office of the Prosecutor’s intent to finally open an investigation into the situation in Palestine once the deliberations of the Chamber are concluded. After nearly 5 years of preliminary examination, the Palestinian people who seek redress in this Court expect actions congruent with the urgency and gravity of the situation in Palestine and they rightly demand that these steps are taken without delay,’ it said.
The Foreign Ministry added: ‘The State of Palestine notes that the Office of the Prosecutor already stated that it has jurisdiction over the entirety of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and that there is reasonable basis to believe that crimes have been committed therein. In this regard, the State of Palestine views this request as seeking a confirmation of the position already reached by the Office of the Prosecutor on jurisdiction.
‘The State of Palestine will partake in the judicial process to reaffirm that this matter is already clearly settled as a matter of international law. The Office of the Prosecutor has jurisdiction over the occupied territory of the State of Palestine, given that Palestine is a State Party to the Rome Status and that the State of Palestine granted the Prosecutor jurisdiction to look into crimes committed in its territory.
‘Nonetheless, the State of Palestine looks forward to an expeditious ruling from the Pre-trial Chamber I, in line with the time frames set within the Chamber’s Practice manual, allowing for the Prosecutor to proceed with opening an investigation into the situation in Palestine without any further delay.
‘Finally, the State of Palestine reaffirms that it remains committed to upholding its legal obligations as a State Party to the Rome Statute and will continue its steadfast record of cooperation with the Court.

  • Saeb Erekat, head of the National Committee responsible for following up on the International Criminal Court (ICC), said on Saturday that the announcement by the ICC Prosecutor on opening an investigation into the situation in Palestine is positive and an encouraging step.

‘The decision announced by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a positive and encouraging step that brings us closer to the opening of a criminal investigation into the crimes committed in Palestine in accordance with the Rome Statute, putting an end to the impunity of the perpetrators and contributing to the achievement of justice,’ said Erekat in a statement.
‘The step is a confirmation that the ICC has jurisdiction and that it is in its final steps before opening a criminal investigation. This represents a message of hope to our people, the victims of those crimes, that justice is indeed possible,’ he added.
Erekat expressed hope that the Pre-Trial Chamber will end its consultations in order to conclude the preliminary study and move immediately towards the investigation. ‘The main victims of delaying the action towards justice are our people who suffer daily as a result of the crimes of the Israeli occupation,’ he said.
‘Israel’s hysterical reaction is that of a state that has put itself above international law, with a system of laws aimed at normalising the situation of perpetual occupation, colonial-settlements and annexation, all of them inconsistent with international law. The State of Palestine has sovereignty over its territory on the 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem. According to the Rome Statute, the accession of the State of Palestine to the International Criminal Court gives the court full legal authority to pursue war crimes committed by the occupation over the territory of Palestine,’ said Erekat.
He concluded: ‘While Israel, the occupying power, insists on violating its obligations under international law and UN resolutions, Palestine will provide all the required support and cooperation to the court, as it has done since its accession to the Rome Statute and the start of the preliminary investigation.’
On Thursday the Arab League condemned Brazil opening a trade office in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, stating that the move will ‘seriously damage’ the South American country’s political and economic interests in the Arab world.
The pan-Arab organisation criticised Brazil’s move as a violation of international law and voiced its continued support for the Palestinian cause plus the legal status of Jerusalem al-Quds at an emergency meeting convened in the Egyptian Cairo on Thursday, Press TV reported.
‘This unilateral and unlawful action’ is a bias toward Israel and supports Israel’s ‘illegal policies aimed at controlling the occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem),’ the Arab League said.
It further noted that such a ‘negative change in Brazilian foreign policy toward Palestinians would seriously damage Arab-Brazilian shared political, economic and diplomatic interests’.
It expressed ‘deep regret’ that the Brazilian government had reversed its decades-long Mideast policy.
Meanwhile, Kuwait’s representative, Ambassador Ahmed al-Bakr, expressed his country’s complete rejection of any act of prejudice toward the legal status of Jerusalem al-Quds.
He added that Brazil’s opening of a technical office in the city constitutes a ‘clear and obvious violation of international resolutions’.
Algeria also warned that Brazil’s step would inflame tensions in the Middle East region, and undermine efforts for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It urged the Brazilian government to re-evaluate its decision.
Last Sunday, Brazil opened a trade office in Jerusalem al-Quds and announced its intention to relocate its embassy in the occupied territories from Tel Aviv to the disputed holy city next year.
Israel captured East Jerusalem al-Quds in the 1967 Middle East war, and annexed it afterward, claiming it part of its indivisible capital. This is while Palestinians view East Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of their future independent state.
Earlier this month, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates summoned the Brazilian representative to Palestine to express its outrage over a visit by a Brazilian legislator to a settlement in the central part of the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian Deputy Foreign Minister for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs Hanan Jarrar stated that Francisco Mauro Brasil de Holanda was called in on December 5 over the visit of Eduardo Bolsonaro, a parliamentarian and a son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, to Psagot settlement.
Jarrar stated that Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian territories are illegal and illegitimate, and that Bolsonaro’s visit constitutes a blatant violation of international law and as well as the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
On November 1 last year, Bolsonaro announced his intention to relocate the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds. The move will make his Latin American country the third after the United States and Guatemala made the controversial switch.
‘As previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,’ Bolsonaro tweeted in defiance to the Palestinians and most of the world at the time.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu quickly welcomed the plan and issued a statement then, praising the decision.
‘I congratulate my friend Brazilian president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, for his intention to move the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem, a historic, correct and exciting step!’ Netanyahu commented.