Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas Flash 90

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday signed a Palestinian request to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), seeking a new avenue for action against Israel after a failed UN resolution calling for Israel to withdraw to 1949 Armistice lines, AFP reports.

Abbas signed the request along with applications to join 20 other international conventions during a meeting broadcast live on PA television.

The PA has hoped that ICC membership will pave the way for "war crimes" prosecutions against Israeli officials for their presence in Jewish areas of Judea and Samaria. 

The Palestinians have had the option of applying for membership of the ICC and a raft of UN agencies since late 2012 when it won recognition as a UN observer state.

But they had agreed to hold off during nine months of abortive US-brokered peace negotiations with Israel that collapsed in mutual recrimination in April.

The apparent decision to turn to the ICC could backfire, however. By joining the Rome Statute the Palestinian Authority - and particularly Hamas - will also be exposed to potential Israeli lawsuits for war crimes including the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians and use of Palestinian civilians as human shields.

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.

The desperate move follows the PA exhausting other international means of prosecuting Israel, however, after its draft resolution calling for Israel to withdraw from Judea-Samaria failed in a UN Security Council vote Tuesday night.