RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is to apply immediately to join the International Criminal Court, senior officials said Wednesday, after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution on ending the Israeli occupation.
Abbas will sign the Rome Statute later Wednesday, adhering to the founding treaty of the ICC, where the Palestinians could sue Israeli officials for war crimes in the occupied territories, several top officials told AFP.
The Palestinian leader will also sign 15 other international conventions on Wednesday, the sources said.
At 1630 GMT, Abbas is to meet with top officials to discuss the way forward after the abortive overnight vote at the 15-member Security Council.
“The main subject of the leadership meeting will be joining several international organisations, including the International Criminal Court,” chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.
Based in The Hague, the ICC can prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed since July 1, 2002, when the Rome Statute came into force.
According to the ICC’s official website, last updated in May 2013, the Rome Treaty has been ratified by 122 states.
The court can only pursue an individual if crimes were committed on the territory of a state party – one that signed and ratified the Rome Statute – or by a citizen of such a state.
Israel has signed but not ratified the treaty.
Tuesday’s vote defeat came after a three-month campaign by the Palestinians at the United Nations to win support for the resolution that would have set a timeframe for ending the Israeli occupation.
Council heavyweights China, France and Russia were among eight countries voting in favour, while the United States and Australia voted against. Five others abstained, among them Britain, but also Nigeria which had been expected to support the resolution.