Abbas gets Hamas backing to sign Rome Statute; ICC membership would allow both Israel & Hamas to war crimes investigations.
Hamas has signed a proposal for the Palestinians to apply to join the International Criminal Court at which legal action could be taken against Israel, a senior official of the Islamist movement said Saturday.
“Hamas signed the document which (Palestinian) president (Mahmud Abbas) put forth as a condition that all factions approve, before he goes to sign the Rome Statute, which paves the way for Palestine’s membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC),” Hamas deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuq wrote on his Facebook page.
The Palestinian declaration came after two days of talks in Qatar between Abbas and Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal, whose militant movement is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip.
Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP that the Islamic Jihad, the second most powerful force in Gaza, “is currently the only Palestinian faction that has not signed” the document.
“They are studying the possibility of signing,” he added.
According to Erakat, “the document calls on president Abbas to sign the Rome Statute to join the ICC, and indicates all the signatories assume responsibility for this membership.”
Earlier this month, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said his government would soon try to haul Israelis before the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.
“We will go to the ICJ, and put our signature on it. Very soon we will be a (sovereign) state. That is enough for the court to start an investigation,” Malki, on a visit to Bogota, told AFP two weeks ago.
Based in The Hague, the ICC opened its doors in 2003 and is the world’s first independent court set up to try the worst crimes, including genocide and war crimes.
Since the July 8 outbreak of the latest war in and around Gaza, Israel and Hamas have accused each other of war crimes.
Joining the ICC would also expose Palestinian factions to possible prosecution.
The Palestinians had in 2009 asked the ICC’s prosecutor’s office to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Israeli military in Gaza.
Palestine however in late November 2012 obtained non-member observer status at the United Nations, opening the door for an ICC investigation.
The Palestinian leadership has since been under intense pressure from various countries including the US, Britain and France to desist from signing up for an ICC probe.
There has so far been no probe as Palestine is not an ICC member state and its status as a state is uncertain in some international institutions.
However, the Palestinians in late November 2012 obtained the status of observer state at the United Nations, opening the door for an ICC investigation.
Israel has signed but not ratified the Rome Statute.
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