Posted on December 28, 2016
The International Criminal Court prosecutor should move swiftly to open an investigation into the legality of settlements, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official said on Wednesday.
“The Executive Committee wants the ICC prosecutor to expedite her initial examination into settlements and subsequently proceed to opening a full investigation, now that the Security Council has established that they are illegal,” committee member Wasel Abu Yousif told The Jerusalem Post.
UN Security Council resolution 2334, which was approved on Friday, said settlements “have no legal validity” and constitute an obstacle to peace. The resolution called them a “flagrant violation” of international law, but it was passed under the less-binding UN Charter Chapter 6, not the most-binding Chapter 7, leaving an unclear picture of whether the ICC would view the settlements as a prosecutable war crime.
The ICC prosecution opened a preliminary examination of alleged war crimes connected to the 2014 Gaza war and to the settlement enterprise in January 2015.
Israel disputes the ICC’s jurisdiction, since it is not a member of the ICC, and says there is no “State of Palestine” to request ICC intervention. It also argues that its own more than 30 criminal investigations make any ICC intervention superfluous.
The Palestinians argue that Israeli investigations are not sufficiently impartial and are used to shield senior officers from being charged.
A full criminal investigation could be years off and Israel could appeal the ICC’s decision to investigate before a pre-trial panel.
Abu Yousif added that the PLO plans to turn to a number of other international bodies in addition to the ICC to hold Israel accountable for its settlement construction.
“We are going to ask the parties of Geneva Accords and the UN Human Rights Council to discuss and take a position on the issue of illegal settlements,” Abu Yousif declared.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.