PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA chairman Mahmoud AbbasReuters

Palestinian Authority (PA) officials on Friday welcomed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) ruling that it has jurisdiction over Judea, Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem, paving the way for a war crimes probe against Israel.

“The ICC’s decision to consider Palestine as a member state according to the Treaty of Rome and the court's jurisdiction to consider Palestinian territories’ issues and complaints raised by the PA, a victory for right, justice, freedom and moral values in the world,” tweeted Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA’s General Authority of Civil Affairs.

The PA’s “minister of foreign affairs”, Riyad al-Maliki, also welcomed the ICC decision.

"We call on the prosecutor of the tribunal in The Hague, Fatou Bensouda, to open an investigation against Israel as soon as possible," he said.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier denounced the ICC ruling, saying, "Today the court proved once again that it is a political body and not a judicial institution. The court ignores the real war crimes and instead pursues the State of Israel, a state with a strong democratic regime, which sanctifies the rule of law, and is not a member of the tribunal.”

“In this ruling, the tribunal violated the right of democracies to defend themselves against terrorism, and played into the hands of those who undermine efforts to expand the circle of peace,” he continued.

“We will continue to protect our citizens and soldiers in every way from legal persecution,” concluded Netanyahu.

The three-panel judge at the ICC ruled that Judea, Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem are within the jurisdiction of the court.

In a press release, the ICC said that the judges ruled that "the Court's territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine, a State party to the ICC Rome Statute, extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced in late 2019 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."

She subsequently ruled that “Palestine” is a state and the ICC has jurisdiction involving its cases.

Israel has argued that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over the case, since there is no State of Palestine.

(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.)