Palestine is a state, and therefore the International Criminal Court (ICC) has legal jurisdiction to rule on alleged war crimes committed there, the ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda reiterated on Thursday, April 30.
The statement was a firm response to intense lobbying efforts by Israel and its supporters, especially Germany, to delegitimize the proceeding altogether.
The 60-page document was entitled: A Response to the ‘Observations of Amici Curiae, Legal Representatives of Victims, and States’. (It can be read in full here).
“Once a state becomes a party to the Statute, the Court is automatically entitled to exercise jurisdiction over article 5 crimes committed on its territory” without any further “separate assessment” by organs of the Court as to the Statehood of the State Party,” the statement reads in part.
“Palestine’s viability as a State—and the exercise of the Palestinian people’s right to self determination—has been obstructed by the expansion of settlements and the construction of the barrier and its associated regime in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which have been found to violate international law,” the document also stated.
The ICC pre-trial chamber will now decide how to move forward with the investigation.
“The Prosecutor advanced quite compelling arguments and properly addressed those submissions which aimed at persuading the court not to move forward,” Dr. Triestino Mariniello, member of the Legal Team Representing Gaza Victims before the ICC, told The Palestine Chronicle.
Mariniello also told the Chronicle that although Bensouda’s “observations were compelling,” her decision to call on the pre-trial chamber was not a mandated legal procedure and “it only causes unnecessary delays.”
“Since Palestine submitted a referral to the court, the ICC had the power to open an investigation without asking the pre-trial chamber to rule on the matter,” he said.
“The victims we represent are worried about further delays. The victims are also worried about the so-called ‘narrow scope of investigation’, which is a de facto exclusion of crimes that were committed since 2015 against Palestinian civilians.”
Source: The Palestine Chronicle