Saeb Erekat, Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee, on Thursday praised what he described as the "courageous and responsible" report of the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, who ruled that “Palestine” is a state and the ICC has jurisdiction involving its cases.
Erekat said in a statement that Bensouda had asked the preparatory committee to determine that the area of jurisdiction of the ICC includes the “West Bank” and eastern Jerusalem as well as the Gaza Strip.
"The arrival of Palestine at this stage sends a message of hope to our (Palestinian) people that the date is coming on which a criminal investigation will be launched against those in Israel who have committed war crimes against the Palestinian people," Erekat said.
He noted that the "State of Palestine" is ready to provide all the assistance needed to the ICC to advance the investigation against Israel.
Bensouda 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."
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 PA, which joined the court in 2015 and has since filed a series of legal complaints with it against Israel.
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.
Before the ICC said it would delay the debate on the jurisdiction, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called for sanctions against the ICC, saying its investigation into Israel’s actions against Hamas in 2014 was a “full frontal attack” on democracies’ rights to self-defense.