ICC notified Palestinian Authority of Israel probe in advance - PA FM

The PA had been in "constant contact" with ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda since they first arrived at the court in 2014.

International Criminal Court (photo credit: FLICKR/GREGER RAVIK)
International Criminal Court
(photo credit: FLICKR/GREGER RAVIK)
The International Criminal Court's announcement that it would be launching an investigation into Israel came with little warning. But according to Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, the Palestinians were warned well in advance.
During an interview on official PA TV on March 6, which was translated by the watchdog Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Maliki revealed that the PA has been in "constant contact" with ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. This began "from the first moment when we set foot in the ICC in 2014," he clarified.
Maliki further stated that Bensouda had given them advance notice of the investigation "a number of hours" before her announcement, but had asked that it be kept a secret until then.
The foreign minister added that the government is "seriously considering" paying a visit to Bensouda in The Hague to discuss the next steps in the process. The timing, however, depends on the coronavirus situation in the Netherlands.
After the ICC announced the investigation earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority quickly praised the move.
The decision to investigate Israel sparked widespread controversy in the Jewish state, the US and abroad due to the fact that Israel is not part of the ICC, nor has it signed on to the Rome Statute. As such, many argue that the court does not legally have jurisdiction in this matter.
However, an ICC Pre-Trial Chamber had decided earlier that they did have jurisdiction, and recognized Palestine as a state for the purpose of this investigation.
This would mean that several high-profile Israelis could be charged for war crimes, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defense ministers and any other high-level officials involved in such activity since June 13, 2014, along with many soldiers and commanders.
Both Israel and the US have vowed to fight this investigation, many other countries have voiced opposition, and it is possible that a measure could be brought to the UN Security Council to stop it. However, Malki also vowed that the PA would stop any and all attempts to do so.
The PA's revelation that they had been in contact with the ICC also comes in the run-up to the Palestinian general elections, the first held in over a decade. 
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.