Palestinians say they may have no choice but to take Israel to Hague court

Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:41pm EST
 

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The Palestinians declared Wednesday that they will have no choice but to complain about Israel to the International Criminal Court if the Jewish state proceeds with plans to build housing on land the Palestinians want for a future state.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the Middle East, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said his government's decision will largely depend on what the Israelis do with the so-called "E1" area outside the Arab suburbs of East Jerusalem.

"If Israel would like to go further by implementing the E1 (settlement) plan and the other related plans around Jerusalem then yes, we will be going to the ICC," he said. "We have no other choice. It depends on the Israeli decision."

The Palestinians have previously suggested that bringing their various disputes with Israel to the Hague-based court was an option, but Malki's remarks on Wednesday were the most direct threat his government has made against the Jewish state to date.

The International Criminal Court prosecutes charges of genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations. The Palestinians must first apply to join the court, and once a member they could refer Israel for investigation.

The Palestinians became eligible to join the ICC after the U.N. General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians' status at the world body in November from "observer entity" to "non-member state," a move that was widely seen as a de facto recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

After the November 29 vote - on the 65th anniversary of the adoption of U.N. resolution 181 that partitioned Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states - Israel announced it would build 3,000 more settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are areas the Palestinians want for a future state, along with Gaza.

E1 covers some 12 square km (4.6 square miles) and is considered particularly important because it not only juts into the narrow "waist" of the West Bank, but also backs onto East Jerusalem, where Palestinians want to establish their capital.   Continued...