Palestinians to decide on joining global forums

Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh says decision will be made in 2 weeks, joining International Criminal Court possible.

December 14, 2012 19:29
2 minute read.
International Criminal Court in The Hague

ICC 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Palestinians will decide "in two weeks time" which international organizations to join in the wake of upgrading their UN status to non-member state, Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh told AFP Friday.

“We have put together a legal team to study to which organization we shall apply first and what are the procedures of accession and what are the benefits and the consequences of accession into any of these,” Shtayeh was quoted as saying.

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“We are considering all organizations, including the ICC (International Criminal Court) and ICJ (International Court of Justice),” he added.

With respect to pursuing claims against Israel in international legal forums, Shtayeh said that "if Israel continues to commit settler violence, financial violence against our people...then I think Israel is actually pushing us to go into that direction even faster than we want."

Shtayeh also said the Palestinian Authority was considering becoming a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention, "because of its applicability to the Palestinian territories.”

The convention, dealing with the protection of civilians in wartime, states that “the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

The Palestinians maintain that this applies to Israeli settlements located across the Green Line. Israel, which ratified the convention in 1951, rejects its applicability to the West Bank, arguing that the territory was not under the rule of any sovereign nation before Israel's acquisition of the area in the 1967 Six-Day war.

On Tuesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to file charges against Israel with the ICC over the government’s recent decision to build 3,000 housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“We are not very inclined to resort to this path, but if Israel insists on its unacceptable plan, then we will use other methods,” Abbas said during a joint press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Ankara.

“If Israel continues in this way, we will respond with all means – of course peaceful ones – including the possibility of going to this court.”

PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki on Wednesday reiterated the threat, saying ICC membership would enable the Palestinians "to prosecute Israel for all the war crimes it perpetrated against our people in the past, especially the construction of settlements."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev responded by saying he hoped the Palestinians “don’t go the path of provocation and unilateral steps.” If they do, “Israel reserves the right to act to protect its interests,” he said.

On Thursday, Israel’s top US envoy, Michael Oren, said the government needs to be prepared for the Palestinians to take action against it at the International Criminal Court, saying “We can’t discount” the possibility.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.

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