Palestine applies to join ICC

JANUARY 3, 2015

Palestine’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN) has formally submitted a Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) to the UN secretary-general. The Palestinians want to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel and challenge Israeli settlement building.

The UN confirmed receipt of the documents, and said the next steps were being reviewed. It will take a minimum of 60 days for the request to come into effect.

Speaking at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday, Riyad Mansour said pursuing the war-crimes case was an option that allowed Palestine to "seek justice for all those killed by the Israeli occupier".

The move came two days after the application for membership of the Hague-based ICC was signed by President Mahmoud Abbas.

"We are honoured that we are to be the 123rd state party to join the ICC, which will become effective about 60 days from now," Mansour said.

"It is a very significant step which we will be taking. It is a legal option, it is a peaceful option, it is a civilised option and it is an option that anyone who upholds the law should not be afraid of."

When asked about the possibility of Palestinian leaders, particularly members of Hamas, being pursued for war crimes, Mansour said that the option was "political posturing".

"We are not afraid of the judgement of the law, especially international law," he said.

But there was no guarantee the cases requested by Palestine would be investigated. The ICC gets hundreds of requests each year and doesn't accept them all.

Only states can join the ICC, and some UN member states do not officially recognise Palestine as a state. The US has has described this move as counter-productive and the Palestinians might lose $400m in US aid.

Israeli prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, held an emergency meeting with his senior ministers to discuss the move.

On Thursday he had urged the ICC not to accept the Palestinian application.