Abbas Threatens ICC Charges Over Israeli Housing Plans

Palestinian Authority warns that it may file war crimes charges against Israel with the Int’l Crimes Court if it doesn’t halt east Jerusalem building plans

News agencies

Israel is moving forward with plans for two major settlement projects in east Jerusalem, a spokeswoman said Tuesday, even as a senior Palestinian official warned that his government could pursue war crimes charges if Israel does not halt such construction.

International anger over Israeli settlement construction has snowballed in recent days, following the UN’s decision to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status to that of a “nonmember state” last week.

Israel retaliated by announcing plans to build 3,000 homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, as well as preparations for construction of an especially sensitive project near Jerusalem, known as E1.

The Israeli reprisal has prompted the country’s strongest Western allies to take an unusually strong line with the Jewish state.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned Tuesday that the latest Israeli building plans would make the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, “almost inconceivable.”

Hague told the British Parliament that he “didn’t think there was enthusiasm” among EU member states for economic sanctions against Israel, but said there would be further diplomatic steps – with the exception of cutting ties – if settlement building continues.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry summoned Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Yaakov Amitai to express Cairo’s disapproval of Israel’s decision, Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Amr Roshdy said.

Amitai was told that the decision not only undermines the efforts to renew negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians but is also a violation of international law.

Australia, Brazil Ireland and Finland summoned the local Israeli ambassadors Tuesday to protest the settlement plans, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said, a day after five European countries, including Britain, took the same step.

Successive US governments have pressured Israel to freeze the plan because it would threaten chances of setting up a viable Palestinian state.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev defended the recent Israeli decisions, saying that “from our perspective, Israel is responding in a very measured way to a series of Palestinian provocations.”

Regev said Tuesday that the government authorized preliminary planning and zoning work in E1, but that the government has not decided yet whether to authorize construction.

‘PA encouraged by sanctions’

UN recognition could enable the Palestinians to gain access to the International Criminal Court and seek war crimes charges against Israel for its construction of settlements on occupied lands.

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that he’s not going to turn to the ICC “unless we were attacked” and that he informed many countries, including the United States, of this position. Abbas spoke before Israel announced its latest settlement plans.

Abbas convened the Palestinian leadership on Tuesday, saying that the PA is “discussing with all relevant international parties, and especially the UN Security Council, ways to the Israeli settlements in all Palestinian territories.”



AP and Roi Kais contributed to this report.


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