PA's UN observer Riyad Mansour
PA's UN observer Riyad MansourReuters

The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) UN ambassador, Riyad Mansour, threatened on Thursday that his government will join the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the UN Security Council refuses to set a deadline for Israel to withdraw from Judea and Samaria.

According to The Associated Press (AP), Mansour said the PA turned to the Security Council "to force Israel to negotiate in good faith the end of occupation within a time frame."

He added that PA hopes the Security Council will adopt a draft resolution, the contents of which were exposed Wednesday, that would set a deadline of November 2016 for an Israeli pullout from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem, with a goal of establishing an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.

"But if this additional door of peace is closed before us, then we will not only join the ICC to seek accountability," Mansour said in an interview with AP.

"We will join other treaties and agencies" to build evidence "that we exist as a nation, we exist as a state although the land of our state is under occupation," he declared.

After the collapse the last U.S.-led talks earlier this year, Mansour said the Palestinians believe it is "futile" to go back to "the old-style negotiations that led to failure."

He told AP that the Palestinians hope that under Security Council pressure, Israel will negotiate by agreeing on final status issues, starting with setting borders based on lines predating the 1967 Six Day War, with minor adjustments.

If the council resolution is vetoed and the PA joins the International Criminal Court, it would also open the door to war crime charges against Palestinian Arabs, but Mansour told AP that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has made clear that the Palestinians are prepared to be held accountable by the world's war crimes tribunal for any wrongdoing.

"But it is obvious that the one who is extremely afraid of this option is the Israelis, and those who are protecting the Israelis," the ambassador said.

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 after 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.