Erekat welcomes ICC probe of Israeli 'war crimes'

"Israel’s hysterical reaction is that of a state that has put itself above international law," charges PLO secretary general.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat
Flash 90

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), on Friday welcomed the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor’s decision to open a full investigation into alleged Israeli “war crimes” in Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled territories.

“The step taken by the prosecutors represents a confirmation of her position that the ICC has territorial jurisdiction to examine the ongoing crimes that are committed by Israel, the Occupying Power. It is the final step towards opening a criminal investigation, and it is a message of hope to our people, the victims of those crimes, that justice is indeed possible,” he said in a statement.

“We hope that the Pre-Trial Chamber will end its consultations in order to conclude the preliminary examination and move immediately to the investigation. Any delay in opening the investigation and in seeking accountability against the criminals, results in more suffering for the Palestinians people as a result of the daily crimes of the Israeli occupation,” added Erekat.

“Israel’s hysterical reaction is that of a state that has put itself above international law, with a system of laws aimed at normalizing the situation of perpetual occupation, colonial-settlements and annexation, all of them inconsistent with international law,” he charged. “The State of Palestine has sovereignty over its territory on the 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem. According to the Rome Statute, the accession of the State of Palestine to the International Criminal Court gives the court full legal authority to pursue war crimes committed by the occupation over the territory of Palestine.”

“While Israel, the occupying power, insists on violating its obligations under international law and UN resolutions, Palestine will provide all the required support and cooperation to the court, as it has done since its accession to the Rome Statute and the start of the preliminary investigation,” concluded Erekat.

The Hamas terrorist organization which rules Gaza welcomed the chief prosecutor’s decision as well.

"We see this announcement as a step in the right direction reflecting the exposure of the Israeli occupation in the international system, the magnitude of the injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people and the uncovering of the truth that Israel was trying to hide. The declaration is important and needs actual translation in the field and the beginning of practical steps to prosecute Israel for its crimes and violations against our Palestinian people," it said.

The prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said earlier on Friday that she is “satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine.”

Bensouda urged judges to rule on the court's jurisdiction "without undue delay".

The prosecutor added however that she did not require any authorization from judges to open a probe as there had been a referral from the Palestinian Authority, which joined the court in 2015 and has since filed a series of legal complaints with it against Israel.

(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.)