The International Criminal Court (ICC) was petitioned Tuesday to open an immediate investigation into Israel’s West Bank settlements. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki made the call in person at ICC headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands.
According to a Palestinian statement, the so-called “referral” that Riad Malki handed to the court’s prosecutors outlines “compelling evidence of the ongoing commission of grave crimes to warrant an immediate investigation.” He seeks an investigation into Israeli policies in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem.
Malki was accompanied by a police escort and ushered into the ICC where he was met with staffers at the door. AP reported he remained silent and did not say anything to reporters on arrival.
The ICC has been conducting a probe since 2015 into alleged crimes in the disputed territories, including Israel’s settlement policy and the 2014 Gaza conflict. Tuesday’s referral could speed up that process.
“The Referral covers past, present, and future Israeli actions to promote, expand, and entrench the settlement regime, perpetrated by, or with the assistance of, the government of Israel or its agents and accomplices in the occupied territory of the State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem,” the Palestinian statement said.
The move comes comes in the aftermath of last week’s U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem and bloodshed on the Gaza border inspired by Hamas-led terrorist attacks.
Israel is not a member of the ICC, but its citizens can be charged by the court if they are suspected of committing crimes against a national of a country that is a member. The ICC recognizes “Palestine” as a member state.
While the ICC can indict suspects, it has no police force and has to rely on member states to enforce arrest warrants.
The U.S. has previously threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinians if they brought charges against the Jewish state at the ICC.
In 2015 Senator Lindsey Graham warned, “if the Palestinians join the International Criminal Court in April, and they begin to bring cases against the IDF alleging they’re war criminals for defending the state of Israel, I will lead the effort to cut off all aid to the Palestinians.”
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org