US State Department: Palestine can’t qualify for ICC membership; it’s not a state


WASHINGTON – Palestine is not a state, and therefore does not technically qualify for membership to the International Criminal Court, the State Department said on Wednesday.

Jen Psaki – Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US would oppose the Palestinian move to join the body, and several others at the United Nations, a step it sees as technically flawed.

“It doesn’t qualify to join the ICC,” Psaki told reporters.

That US position stakes out a legal argument for denying ICC membership to the Palestinian Authority – or, at a minimum, for future legal battles over its jurisdiction in the West Bank – after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute of the court on December 30.

But UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said the Palestinians would officially become ICC members as of April 1.

That subjects Israel to accusations of war crimes filed by any ICC member state. The Palestinian Authority, as well, may now face accusations of perpetrating war crimes.

The Obama administration has said in recent days that the decision runs contrary to the pursuit of peace, and a major setback in the diplomatic process. US officials are also examining whether the move violates US appropriations law for the continuation of Palestinian aid.

Washington provides roughly $400 million to the PA on an annual basis.


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