Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday he had no immediate plans to take Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC), but hinted he would consider such a move in the future "in case of Israeli aggression," AFP reported.
Palestinian recourse to the ICC became a possibility this week as a result of the PA's successful bid to upgrade its status at the UN General Assembly. If Abbas chooses to seek membership at the ICC, the Palestinians might be able to file complaints with the court accusing Israel of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious misdeeds.
"We now have the right to appeal the ICC, but we are not going to do it now and will not do it except in the case of Israeli aggression," Abbas told reporters.
Abbas also took the opportunity to attack Israel for approving the construction of 3,000 new housing units in Jerusalem and in the West Bank in response to the unilateral PA move at the UN. The inner cabinet also decided to give the go ahead for the planning of thousands of housing units in area E-1 that connects Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.
"There are at least 15 UN resolutions which consider settlement activity as illegal and an obstacle to peace which must be removed," he said, according to AFP. "Why do (the Israelis) not stop settlements?"
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad also attacked Israel for its settlement plan, calling the move "unjustifiable" and stating that it harmed the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution.
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"Unfortunately [settlement construction] has been happening already and at an alarming pace and in ways that have been quite damaging and undermining of the prospects and viability of the two-state solution in the region," Fayyad told Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC. "It is very regrettable that Israel chose to actually make this announcement yesterday, seemingly in a retaliatory response to what we did yesterday. I question the rationale for there to be a need for retaliation against what [the Palestinians] did yesterday."
Building in E-1, which would create contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim to the northeast beyond the Green Line, is something various Israeli governments have long wanted to do, but which US opposition has prevented.
Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the building plans earlier on Friday, saying they ran counter to efforts to restart the peace process. "While the Palestinians are doing everything possible to keep the two-state solution alive, including with our vote in the United Nations, yesterday, the Israeli government is doing everything possible to destroy it," Erekat stated.
Israel's settlement plan drew a harsh response from the US, which called the plan "counterproductive" and said it could make it harder to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
Reuters and Herb Keinon contributed to this report