The Palestinian Authority's (PA) request to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) took effect on Wednesday, paving the way for it to sue Israel for "war crimes," even as one Palestinian Arab source noted the move will almost certainly backfire.
In a unilateral move breaching the 1993 Oslo Accords that created the PA, on January 1 the group signed the Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the ICC. The request was implemented three months later, on April 1.
Back in 2009 the PA similarly tried to join the ICC but was rejected because it doesn't have the status of a state.
However, after the UN granted the PA non-member state status in November 2012, the PA used the move to levy a renewed ICC bid, even though experts have pointed out UN recognition does not constitute statehood under the international legal definition of a state.
The PA is to sue Israel for "illegal settlements" in Judea and Samaria, despite the fact that the Jewish presence in the region is legal under international law as was conclusively proven in the 2012 Levy Report.
Likewise it is to sue Israel for "war crimes" in last summer's counter-terror Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. That move will likely backfire, as not only the PA's "unity partner" Hamas but also PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction took part in war crimes by firing rockets at Israeli civilian centers during the war.
A Palestinian Arab source admitted to the possibility of the ICC bid backfiring while speaking to Maariv on Wednesday, noting "Palestinians can make a claim against the settlements, but it's doubtful that a claim regarding the recent war in Gaza won't bring about a counter-suit from Israel, which is preparing for this."
"The Israelis have prepared stacks of paperwork on conduct during Operation Protective Edge, including claims of Hamas rocket fire and Palestinian groups shooting from schools and other civilian buildings. This could lead to a suit against Hamas leaders who control the Gaza Strip," the source added.
Indeed, Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center has already launched law suits against Abbas and Hamas leaders at the ICC.
Giving further ammunition to the charges against the PA and Hamas was an Amnesty International report released last Thursday, which showed how Palestinian Arab terrorist groups in Gaza committed war crimes during last summer's clash.
Nevertheless the PA has established a committee led by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat to oversee the complaints it intends to sue Israel for at the ICC, and denied reports that it agreed to cancel the ICC move in exchange for Israel freeing up frozen taxes.