THE HAGUE, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Riyad al-Malki Tuesday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an immediate investigation into Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Al-Malki was accompanied by a police escort and ushered into the ICC, where he met ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to hand over a referral over Israeli settlements.
The Foreign Ministry described in a press statement the submission of the referral as an important and historic step towards justice for the Palestinian people, who continue to suffer from ongoing, widespread and systematic crimes.
On behalf of the Palestinian people, the State of Palestine exercised its right as a State Party to the Rome Statute to refer the Situation in Palestine, to the ICC, the statement said.
Given the gravity and intensification of crimes committed in the territory of the State of Palestine and the impunity with which Israeli officials and other citizens commit those crimes, it has become necessary for the State of Palestine to take this step, the statement added.
The referral submitted to the ICC underscores that there is sufficient and insurmountable evidence available to the Prosecutor to justify opening an investigation immediately.
By taking this step, the State of Palestine is seeking justice and redress, not revenge. By pursuing justice, Palestine is staying true to its principles and objectives and fulfilling its obligations towards the Palestinian people. Palestine is also advancing the cause of peace because justice is the cornerstone of peace, the statement read.
Israel’s settlement regime is the single most dangerous threat to Palestinian lives, livelihoods, and national rights. Israel maintains, expands, and protects the settlement regime by committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people, it added.
These gave crimes, which fall under the court’s jurisdiction, were highlighted in the referral. They include the forcible transfer of Palestinians, unlawful killings, illegal appropriation of land and property, the demolition of Palestinian homes and other properties, repression of dissent through unlawful killing of peaceful protesters, as well as the policy of mass arbitrary detention and torture.
This step is intended to ensure that those most responsible for these crimes are held accountable for their actions without further delay. It is in line with steps adopted by the State of Palestine over the past years, in pursuit of justice and accountability, including joining international human rights instruments, it added.
The International Criminal Court is the competent body to examine these ongoing crimes and prosecute those most responsible for their commission. It must fulfill its responsibilities and advance the cause of justice and accountability.
The State of Palestine stresses the importance of achieving justice for the victims of crimes, reaffirms its commitment to cooperate fully with the Court and maintains that ensuring justice and accountability is crucial the integrity and credibility of the ICC itself. This is a test the International Criminal Court cannot afford to fail, it concluded.
Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency