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Palestinian Foreign Minister Submits First Case Material Against Israeli War Criminals to the Hague Court

June 26, 2015 


Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyadh Al-Maliki, in his way to the ICC in the Hague, to present documents to prosecute Israeli war criminals, June 25, 2015 More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed by Israeli war criminals in their savage war on Gaza, on July-August 2014. Most of the victims were children, women, and elderly people.


PA Presents Evidence Against Israel to ICC

Friday June 26, 2015 02:30 by IMEMC News & Agencies

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday delivered the first batch of evidence to the International Criminal Court in support of its campaign to have Israel investigated for alleged war crimes.

Documents handed to the ICC consist of two files, one regarding Israeli crimes committed in Gaza during last summer's war. (AFP/Thomas Coex, File)

"The state of Palestine has pledged to cooperate with the court including by providing it with relevant information and it is fulfilling its pledge today," Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki told journalists after leaving the court.

"The information provided by the state of Palestine make a compelling case for the prompt opening of an investigation," Malki added.

According to AFP, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, in January, launched a preliminary probe to see whether there was enough evidence for a full-blown war crimes investigation into last year's conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

The documents handed over on Thursday consist of two files: one about alleged Israeli crimes committed in Gaza during the 50-day war in July and August last year that killed over 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

The other file deals with Israel's occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including "information about the issue of Palestinian prisoners," the Palestinian mission in The Hague said.

"Achieving justice is essential for the Palestinian victims, dead and alive," said Malki. "Palestine has chosen to seek justice not vengeance, this is why we are here today."

The move is part of an increased focus on diplomatic maneuvering by the Palestinian leadership, who has grown frustrated with consecutive failures to end the nearly fifty-year Israeli occupation and creating their own independent state.

Bensouda warned in May that both sides could face war crimes charges in the case, which has been vehemently opposed by Israel. Israel is not a signatory of the statute that established the court. Palestine ratified the ICC's statutes in January.

The PA's submission of evidence comes three days after the UN Commission of Inquiry announced it had gathered "credible allegations" that both sides had committed war crimes during the conflict, which killed more than 2,140 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 people on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

The report decried the "huge firepower" used in Gaza, with Israel launching more than 6,000 airstrikes and firing 50,000 artillery shells during the 51-day operation.

It also criticized the "indiscriminate" firing of thousands of rockets and mortar rounds at Israel, which it said appeared to be have been intended to "spread terror" among Israeli civilians.

Earlier this year, as the Palestinians were putting their accession to the ICC in motion, president Mahmoud Abbas sent documents to the court authorizing the prosecutor to investigate alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories since June 13, 2014.

Among the more severe events of the Gaza war was Israel's bombing of UN schools being used as shelters for the displaced.

The ICC, set up in 2002, is the world's only permanent independent body to try the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.


The following is an edited Reuters news story:

Palestinians submit first case material against Israel to Hague court

Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:48pm EDT Related: World, Israel

By Thomas Escritt

THE HAGUE, Reuters --

The Palestinian Authority made its first submission of evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes to the International Criminal Court on Thursday, trying to speed up an ICC inquiry into abuses committed during last year's Gaza conflict.

The move may leave Israel in a quandary since it must decide whether to cooperate with the ICC investigation or find itself isolated as one of a very few countries that have declined to work with its prosecutors.

Some $400 million in annual U.S. economic aid to the Palestinian Authority could also be jeopardized by the inquiry.

Standing outside the ICC after meeting the court's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said he had submitted dossiers on the Gaza conflict, Israeli settlements on occupied land where Palestinians seek a state, and treatment of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

"Palestine is a test for the credibility of international mechanisms ... a test the world cannot afford to fail. Palestine has decided to seek justice, not vengeance," Maliki said.

A cease-fire in August ended 50 days of fighting between Gaza militants and Israel in which health officials said more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.

U.N. investigators said on Monday that Israel and Palestinian militant groups committed grave abuses of international humanitarian law during the conflict that may amount to war crimes.

The Hague-based ICC, with no police force or enforcement powers of its own, is looking into alleged crimes by both sides of the conflict but cannot compel Israel to give it information.


The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank, joined the court in April and Bensouda has opened a preliminary investigation related to Gaza.

But Israel has substantial leverage over the course of ICC inquiries since court investigators can access sites in Gaza generally only via Israel. Gaza's one border crossing with Egypt is largely closed for security reasons and Israel also controls all crossings into the West Bank.

Maliki said he had agreed with prosecutors on a date for them to visit Palestinian territories, but did not say when. "It depends on their ability to enter Palestinian territory without problems," he said. ICC prosecutors told Reuters earlier they aimed to make field trips to both the Palestinian and Israeli sides but had not yet sought formal Israeli permission.

Israel has been an outspoken critic of the ICC, saying the Palestinian Authority is not a state and should never have been admitted as an ICC member.

The United States is not a member of the ICC, and many U.S. lawmakers have criticized the Palestinians' decision to join it as detrimental to hopes for peace with Israel. On Thursday, members of the U.S. Congress said the Palestinians' "misguided" action threatened U.S. aid.

"By formally submitting allegations against Israeli forces to the ICC chief prosecutor, President (Mahmoud) Abbas has triggered a provision in U.S. law that suspends all economic assistance to the PA," said U.S. Representative Nita Lowey, a senior member of the subcommittee that oversees foreign aid.

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration also said it opposes actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive. "We do not believe the Palestinians are eligible to accede to the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court," said Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Roberta Rampton in Washington and Luke Baker in Jerusalem; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Tom Brown)

Vatican signs first treaty with 'State of Palestine', backs two-state solution

VATICAN CITY | By Philip Pullella

Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:06am EDT

Reuters --

The Vatican signed its first treaty with the "State of Palestine" on Friday, calling for "courageous decisions" to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a two-state solution.

The treaty concerned the Catholic Church's activities in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli foreign ministry said it regretted the move, calling the signing of a treaty, which implies there is an official Palestinian state, "a hasty step (that) damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement".

But Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican's foreign minister, said he hoped the agreement could be a "stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties".

He said he hoped that a peace process directly negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians could resume and lead to a two-state solution.

"This certainly requires courageous decisions, but it will also offer a major contribution to peace and stability in the region," he said..

The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2012 recognizing Palestine as an observer non-member state. This was welcomed at the time by the Vatican, which has the same observer non-member status at the United Nations.

Since then the Vatican has de facto recognized a "State of Palestine" and Pope Francis referred to it by that name when he visited the Holy Land last year.

(Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem Editing by Jeremy Gaunt) 


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