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PLO complains to ICC about ‘Israeli war crimes’

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The Palestinian leadership has filed a new complaint against Israel with the International Criminal Court (ICC) about “Israeli war crimes”.

The complaint was prompted by Israel’s planned demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar in the West Bank. Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat said on Tuesday that the complaint urged ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to meet with representatives of Khan al-Ahmar and Palestinian officials to discuss “crimes of forcible displacement, ethnic cleansing and the destruction of civilian property”.

Erekat also called on the ICC “to expedite” the opening of the investigation into other Israeli crimes. The ICC currently does not have jurisdiction to investigate the allegations because Israel is not a member of the court.

The Trump administration has intensified its rhetoric against the ICC by threatening sanctions if the court pursues investigations against the US, Israel or other allies. In remarks to the conservative Federalist Society in Washington, National Security Advisor John Bolton said the ICC “has been ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed, outright dangerous”.

He noted recent reports that the ICC is planning to investigate Israeli settlements in the West Bank, saying that “while the court welcomes the membership of the so-called state of Palestine, it has threatened Israel, a liberal, democratic nation, with investigations into its actions in the West Bank and Gaza to defend its citizens from terrorist attacks”.

Last week the Israeli Supreme Court approved the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar after it agreed with the Israeli government’s claim that the village had been built on state-owned land and its houses were constructed without permits. An injunction preventing the demolition of the village ended at midnight.

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said the demolition of the village would have “very serious consequences” on the residents, as well as on the prospects of the two-state solution, adding that France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK join the EU’s call to the Israeli government not to follow through with the demolition.