The world’s largest bloc of Islamic countries has been lobbying the Palestinian Authority to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) so it can prosecute Israeli politicians and military leaders for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, the bloc’s leader told The Associated Press (AP) on Saturday.
Iyad Madani said the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly supports PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to ask the UN Security Council to impose a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.
“As OIC, we’re lobbying him to join the Rome Treaty and open the door as a member of the ICC court to bring up charges against the individual politicians and military people in Israel who are responsible for all those atrocities, the latest of which is Gaza,” Madani said.
He said the OIC agrees with Abbas’s statement to the UN General Assembly’s ministerial meeting on Friday that war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide were committed in Gaza.
Madani accused Israel of “dehumanizing” treatment of the Palestinian Arabs for decades, “and we think there is a strong case to classify this current government of Israel as an apartheid state that should be dealt with internationally as an apartheid state.”
The PA has been threatening for years that it will sue Israel at the ICC. The PA’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, recently met with ICC officials and inquired about the legal procedures necessary for the PA to join the ICC and sign the Rome Statute, thus allowing it to take action against possible Israeli war crimes in Gaza.
That move came the PA requested to join 15 international agencies in breach of the conditions of the peace talks that were going on with Israel at that time.
A senior PA official recently said, however, that Abbas had blocked the initiative to turn to the ICC in order to push forward a new peace talks bid.
Despite the constant threats to turn to the ICC, PA officials realize that doing so is a calculated risk because it would give Israel a forum to pursue war crimes charges against the PA as well and particularly against Hamas.
In a recent interview, the PA's envoy to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) admitted the PA has no hope of pressing charges against Israel in international courts - because Palestinian terrorist groups are far worse violators of international law themselves.