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PA to request ICC membership over settlements
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
12/12/2012
Palestinian FM Malki warns of strong response over E1; PA condemns as "piracy" Israel's withholding of tax revenues.
 
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday repeated threats to file charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court over plans to build housing units in E1, on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem.

PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said that the Palestinians’ next move would be to request membership in the ICC following last month’s UN General Assembly vote in favor of granting a Palestinian state the status of non-member observer.

“We are not in a rush to go to the court, because we want to use this option in the right way to achieve the most effective outcome,” Malki told the PA’s official Voice of Palestine radio station. “We will choose the appropriate time to do so.”

Malki warned, however, that if Israel insisted on proceeding with the recently announced housing projects, especially in E1, the Palestinians would respond in a strong way, including filing charges with The Hague-based court.

“Then we would be able to prosecute Israel for all the war crimes it perpetrated against our people in the past, especially the construction of settlements,” he added. “It all depends on whether Israel would continue with its settlement plan.”

On Tuesday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said during a visit to Turkey that he too did not rule out the possibility of taking Israel to the ICC over the settlement project.

The PA Ministry of Information in Ramallah also voiced support for filing charges against Israel with the ICC. The ministry accused Israel of “escalating its political and military offensive” against the Palestinians and called for action to prosecute Israeli “war criminals.”

Meanwhile, the PA on Wednesday condemned Israel’s decision to withhold tax revenues belonging to the Palestinians, dubbing the move “an act of piracy and political blackmail.”

The PA government said after its weekly meeting in Ramallah that the Israeli decision would have “grave repercussions” and would prevent it from providing Palestinians with various services.

The government warned that the decision would aggravate the PA’s financial crisis, particularly in wake of the failure of donor countries to meet their obligations towards the Palestinians.

The PA government urged the international community to intervene with Israel to release the funds. It said Israel’s decision was in violation of the agreements with the PLO and international law.

The government also appealed to the Arab countries to provide the Palestinians with urgent financial aid.
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