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Hasbara Project

Palestine opts to join International Criminal Court

BBSNews 2014-12-16 — By Michael Hess. The state of Palestine has determined to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) but has not set a date. Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour spoke before the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute, that is the current members of 122 nations, on Monday. He said, “We may very well be the 123rd State Party to join the ICC.”

Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN November 2011.

Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN November 2011.

Ambassador Mansour did not mince words when describing what the state of Palestine currently faces from the occupier state of Israel he said in his speech:

If crimes are being committed against our people and we are unable to prosecute the criminals, isn’t the ICC the correct place to go to? If the Rome Statute states that “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies,” is a war crime, then, in the case of illegal Israeli settlements and settlers in our occupied land, isn’t it logical to go to the ICC so as to prosecute and bring an end to this ongoing war crime and to prosecute this continuing crime? When more than 500 Palestinian children are mercilessly killed and more than 3000 are injured in 50 days by the occupying Power during its aggression against the southern part of the occupied State of Palestine in the Gaza Strip, shouldn’t these crimes be prosecuted and those responsible for committing them be punished? When entire Palestinian families have been killed by the occupying Power and their family tree will literally no longer grow, shouldn’t these crimes be prosecuted in the ICC?

Last week Palestine was invited as a Observer State to the ICC after some time. But the catchy phrase in the news then and since being “a seat at the court” is not quite so accurate. BBSNews asked the court and in an emailed statement from the ICC’s spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah wrote:

Between 2003 and 2013, in accordance with paragraphs 1 and 2 of Rule 92, the Assembly of States Parties continued the practice of the United Nations in respect of the participation of entities having a standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly. The practice of the Assembly of States Parties has therefore been to extend an invitation to the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations to participate as observer in the sessions and work of the Assembly, as well as to the first Review Conference of the Rome Statute (held from 31 May to 11 June 2010 in Kampala, Uganda).

Pursuant to rule 94 of the Rules of Procedure, “[a]t the beginning of each session of the Assembly, the President may, subject to the approval of the Assembly, invite a given State which is not a party and does not have observer status to designate a representative to be present during the work of the Assembly”. At the opening of the thirteenth session, on 8 December 2014, the Assembly of States Parties, acting pursuant to rule 94 of its Rules of Procedure invited several States, including the State of Palestine.

This decision was taken in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly. It is a purely procedural decision to ensure the smooth functioning of the ASP. This decision was taken independent of, and without prejudice to, decisions taken for any other purpose, including decisions of any other organization or any organs of the Court regarding any legal issues that may come before them.

This decision does not amount to an accession to the Rome Statute, which is a sovereign decision and requires the deposit of the accession instrument to the treaty with the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Palestine is not yet the 123rd party to the Rome Statute, “Currently, Palestine remains non-party to the Statute.”

This comes against a backdrop of at least two draft resolutions on a Palestinian push at the United Nations to get through a resolution recognizing Palestine as a state within the Green Line, the border after the 1967 war by Israel. The first is by Jordan and sets November 2016 as a timetable for Israeli withdrawal, and the second is by the French and said to be under review by the United States, prompting speculation that the U.S. may not use its veto at the Security Council.

Mansour has confirmed that Palestine will attempt a bid at the United Nations.

Although questions remain over whether this will be a joint Arab draft resolution or a French-backed resolution, Mansour said a proposal would definitely be laid before the Security Council this week.

“We believe that now is the time for decisiveness and we can wait no longer,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat. “We took the decision to submit the draft resolution immediately because we can no longer wait for those who have fallen behind and because they must know that the critical moment is approaching.”