PA president says may file charges with International Criminal Court over plan to build 3,000 new units in J'lem, W. Bank.
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
The Palestinian Authority may file charges against Israel with the UN’s International Criminal Court over the government’s recent decision to build 3,000 housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank, President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.“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.”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.Abbas said that if Israel chooses peace, it will find the Palestinians fully prepared. “But if Israel chooses settlements, especially in E1 [between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim], then we will act differently,” he said without elaborating.Abbas denounced the Israeli plan as an “act of aggression and a red line.”He said the Palestinians won’t allow Israel to implement the housing project which, he claimed, “violated international conventions, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.”AdvertisementEven if the Palestinians decided to go to the ICC, they have no short-term plans to pursue Israelis legally for war crimes, he said.The Israeli housing plan, he said, was aimed at “punishing the Palestinians” in the aftermath of the UN General Assembly’s vote in favor of upgrading their status to non-member observer state. Abbas said the Palestinians would continue to work toward obtaining full membership in the UN.Gul, speaking at the press conference, said Israel’s settlement construction plans amounted to “playing with fire,” and that the country was becoming a burden on its allies.Gul, according to Turkey’s Today’s Zaman website, characterized Israel’s recent announcement of settlement plans following the UN vote as “very dangerous” and aimed at separating Palestinians in the West Bank.“It is obvious that all of Israel’s efforts will turn against it in the middle and long term,” Gul said.According to Today’s Zaman, Gul said the voting at the UN showed the degree to which Israel has become a burden to its allies, specifically the US and Canada.Referring to Ehud Olmert’s comments last week at the Saban Forum in Washington, Today’s Zaman said the former prime minister made similar remarks, “saying that making the announcement to build settlements days after the United States sided with Israel against the Palestinians’ successful bid for de facto statehood recognition by the UN General Assembly was a slap in the face to Israel’s main ally.”The Prime Minister’s Office, in line with its policy of not responding to the frequent tongue-lashings coming from Ankara, had no comment to Gul’s statements. One official explained that whenever the Turkish leaders have “problematic” messages, Jerusalem is “restrained and measured” in its response in the hope it is still possible to repair ties with Turkey.
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