Amnesty International on Thursday welcomed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's move to seek admission in some 15 UN and international organizations, conventions and treaties. The group further urged the Palestinians to sign up to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Abbas's move came in the midst of efforts to seal a deal by which Israel would have released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and implemented a partial settlement freeze in exchange for a Palestinian agreement to continue peace talks and refrain from seeking membership in international bodies.
Israeli politicians, including chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, criticized the moves by Abbas as unhelpful to peace talks, but Amnesty International welcomed the moves.
"Amnesty International believes the move should spur the Palestinian Authority into bolstering its commitment to upholding the rights of all people within areas under its control. This will mean, among other actions, conducting independent and effective investigations into all alleged violations by Palestinian Authority security forces, and prosecuting those responsible in fair trials when there is sufficient evidence," the group said in a statement.
The rights group called on the PA to join the International Criminal Court, saying that the move would allow the persecution of war crimes by both Israel and armed Palestinian groups.
"While welcoming the current development, Amnesty International renews its call on Palestine to become a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Such a move could pave the way towards securing justice for victims of war crimes and other crimes under international law committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and holding various actors, including the Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups, accountable for abuses. Entrenched impunity has blocked accountability for such crimes over many years," the group said.
Amnesty called on Israel to ratify the Rome Statute as well.
The rights group slammed Israeli politicians for threatening to sanction the PA for its unilateral moves.
"Statements by Israeli ministers threatening sanctions against the Palestinian Authority for seeking to join the international treaties are unacceptable, Amnesty International believes. Withholding money or resources from the Palestinian Authority, including tax revenues that Israel collects on its behalf, would have dire implications for Palestinians, particularly in the Gaza Strip, whose 1.7 million residents have been living under an Israeli blockade for almost seven years. As the occupying power, Israel remains responsible for the welfare of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and is prohibited from carrying out collective punishments," the statement read.