China FM Wang Yi, PA's Riyad al-Malki
China FM Wang Yi, PA's Riyad al-MalkiFlash 90

PA "Minister of ‎Foreign Affairs" Riyad Al-Malki revealed that the PA and ICC Prosecutor Fatou ‎Bensouda have been in constant contact and that Bensouda even gave the PA ‎advance notice of her decision to formally open an investigation into alleged war crimes arising from "the situation in Palestine," but asked that the ‎PA ”keep it secret,” Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported.

In an interview with official PA TV on Saturday cited by PMW, Al-Malki explained, "We are in ‎constant contact with her... and her office from the first moment ‎when we set foot in the ICC in 2014. [We’re in touch] directly or ‎indirectly, through the visits we are making, through the contact via our ‎delegation at The Hague, or through the periodical reports we are ‎submitting to the general prosecutor’s office."

"We made contact before ‎the announcement [of the ICC investigation], and we were informed a ‎number of hours before the announcement that there will be an ‎announcement. We knew about this, but they asked us to keep it ‎secret... We are currently seriously considering visiting The Hague and ‎meeting with the general prosecutor to discuss the following steps. ‎What can be expected from her? ... What is required of us? What do ‎they expect from the government of the State of Palestine in this matter, ‎and when can we expect the arrival of the ICC’s first delegations for ‎preparations ahead of beginning the investigation?"

Al-Malki added that PA representatives had also been in contact with Bensouda's office since the announcement of the investigation, and that they intend to meet ‎with the Prosecutor in the near future. ‎

The admission by the PA official raises further doubts about the impartiality of the investigation which the prosecutor insisted would be "conducted independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favor."

The PA had previously warmly welcomed the announcement, adding that "The State of Palestine ‎reminds the Prosecutor and States Parties that the crimes committed by ‎officials of the occupying Power against the Palestinian people are ‎ongoing, systematic, and widespread.”‎