The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said on Monday that the PA leadership was working to speed up the process of filing charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Al-Malki said in a TV interview that the PA leadership was in touch with the office of the prosecutor of the court to inquire about documents and information that would accelerate investigations into Israeli “war crimes.”
He said that a preliminary investigation launched in mid-January by the ICC “could take some time.”
Al-Malki said that the ICC prosecutor was looking into all events that took place in the Palestinian territories as of June 13, 2014.
“The court won’t focus only on the last Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, but would look into all what it considers as a war crime or a crime against humanity,” he added.
Al-Malki said that the “State of Palestine” was committed to the ICC laws and regulations and would therefore cooperate with it.
The UN Security Council is the only party authorized to suspend or delay any investigations launched by the ICC, the PA minister said. He added that in order to avoid a US veto at the Security Council, the Palestinians have begun talking to other permanent members such as Russia and China.
Referring to the Palestinian membership in the ICC, al-Malki said: “We now have a weapon which we can use against any Israeli political and military official. This weapon will serve as a deterrent for Israeli officials and prevent them from perpetrating crimes against the Palestinian people in the future.”
Israel had no immediate response to al-Malki’s words.
Just last week Israel had released to the PA NIS 1.37 million in tax revenues for the months of December, January and February. It had withheld the monthly transfers of the fees to protest the PA’s decision to formally apply for membership in the ICC at the end of December.
The ICC formally accepted the Palestinians as a member state on April 1. But Israel transferred the fees anyway, based on an understanding that the PA would not pursue war crimes complaints at the ICC. But it withheld the March fees and it used NIS 160,000 of the tax revenues to pay for outstanding debts, particularly to the Israel Electric Company to which the PA owes NIS 2 billion.
Israeli officials said that it also released the fees out of humanitarian consideration to the Palestinians and with an eye to ensuring regional stability. It was one of a number of humanitarian steps Israel had taken including authorizing the water hook-up for the new Palestinian city of Rawabi and increasing the volume of water it provided to Gaza, officials said.
On Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas complained that the full funds had not been received. He threatened to return the money and to turn to the ICC. Abbas noted that Israel as obligated to transfers the money and that doing so was not a favor and should not be conditional.
Israeli officials said in response that the PA had an obligation to pay its debts to Israel, particularly to the electric company.
The “PA’s cynical response” to the release of the tax fees “calls into question its commitment to the welfare of the Palestinian population,” the officials said.
Once again the PA proven it would rather act out of political considerations then to focus on the welfare of its population, the officials said.