PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA chairman Mahmoud AbbasReuters

The Palestinian Authority has told the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague that it considers itself exempt from any agreement with Israel and the United States, including the Oslo Accords, due to Israel's plan to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria next month, Haaretz reported Friday.

The PA released a statement from chairman Mahmoud Abbas in response to the ICC’s request last week for clarification regarding Abbas' recent declaration that he is ending all agreements with Israel and the US. This may have ramifications for questions of international jurisdiction in PA-assigned territories.

Abbas announced last month that "if Israel proceeds with annexation, a material breach of the agreements between the two sides, then it will have annulled any remnants of the Oslo Accords and all other agreements concluded between them."

His statement in response to the ICC declares that Israel’s "persistent violations of these agreements, and its announced plans and measures for annexation, absolve the Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine from any obligation arising from these agreements, including security."

However, the PA also stresses in its response to the ICC that Abbas' statements should not be considered part of the legal process at the ICC and that "political" aspects should be avoided in legal proceedings. That is, the authority's legal arguments in the case should not change because of this statement by Abbas.

The ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, recently ruled that “Palestine” is a state and the ICC has jurisdiction involving its cases.

She had announced this past December that she intends to open a full investigation into alleged Israeli “war crimes”, but before opening a full probe, asked the ICC to rule on the territory over which it has jurisdiction because of the "unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation."

Bensouda’s announcement was criticized in Israel and also by countries such as Australia and Hungary. Germany, meanwhile, backed Israel's argument that the court's jurisdiction does not extend to Palestinian Authority-assigned areas, as “Palestine” is not a state that fulfills all the criteria under general international law.

The court had asked the PA about the current status of the agreements, in part because Israel's opposition to the investigation includes the claim that the Oslo Accords established that the PA is not a state and that it therefore is not under the ICC's jurisdiction.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)