International Criminal Court says it has jurisdiction in Palestinian territories

[This reporting is more than 2 years old]

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Judges at the International Criminal Court on Friday [5 February 2021] found the court has jurisdiction over war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, paving the way for a possible criminal investigation, despite Israeli objections.

The ICC judges said their decision was based on the fact that Palestine has been granted membership to the tribunal’s founding treaty, and had referred the situation to the court. The judges said the jurisdiction decision does not imply any attempt to determine Palestinian statehood, which is uncertain, or national borders.

“The Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine … extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” they said.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had found in December 2019 that “war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.” She named both the Israeli Defense Forces and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas as possible perpetrators.

The decision prompted swift reactions from both Israel, which is not a member of the court and rejects its jurisdiction, and the Palestinian Authority, which welcomed the ruling.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the decision. “When the ICC investigates Israel for fake war crimes, this is pure antisemitism,” he said.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price reportedly said that while the U.S. government shares “the goals of the ICC in promoting accountability for the worst crimes known to humanity,” it has “serious concerns” about the ICC’s effort to assert jurisdiction over Israeli personnel in the Palestinian territories.

Read the full Reuters article.
See also: ICC clears way for war crimes probe of Israeli actions (DW)

Image: International Criminal Court, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda