PA will turn to ICC if Arafat murder evidence found

Palestinians will likely have access to international courts following UN statehood status upgrade this week.

International Criminal Court in the Netherlands 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Michael Kooren)
International Criminal Court in the Netherlands 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Michael Kooren)
The Palestinian Authority indicated it would take Israel to the International Criminal Court if it uncovers evidence Israel assassinated former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, something that could become possible if the PA obtains an upgrade to its statehood status in the UN this week.
Speaking to reporters at a new conference in Ramallah on Tuesday, PA investigator Tawfiq Tirawi said Palestinians were gathering evidence about Arafat's death in order "to submit [it] to the International Criminal Court," Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
The PA and French and Russian investigators took samples from Arafat's body on Tuesday, following announcements by a Swiss institute that it found remnants of the poison polonium on the late PLO leader's clothes.
Results from the tests were not expected until March or April of 2013.
Tirawi's remarks came on the heels of tamed threats to pursue international criminal cases against Israel, made by Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour.
"I don't believe that we are going to be rushing the second day to join everything related to the United Nations, including the ICC," Mansour, told a news conference at the United Nations Tuesday.
But if Israel continued to violate international law, particularly by building settlements in the West Bank then Mansour said the Palestinians would consult with friends, including Europe, on "what should we do next to bring Israel into compliance?"
"We're not in the business of trying to prolong this conflict and settle scores," Mansour said. "But we are not fools nor dummies. If they don't move in that direction ... then all of us should be considering all other possible options in order to bring them into compliance."
The Palestinians appear certain to earn approval in the 193-member UN General Assembly for a status upgrade to "observer state" - similar to the Vatican's rank - from observer "entity." The move would implicitly recognize Palestinian statehood.
The change would likely allow the Palestinians to access bodies like the International Criminal Court in the Hague, which prosecutes people for genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations, where it could complain about Israel.
In April, the ICC rejected a Palestinian request to examine alleged crimes in Gaza and the West Bank because the Palestinian territories were not a full UN member.
Reuters contributed to this report.