Israel responds as Palestinians look to take Gaza case to ICC


With Palestinian officials reportedly planning to refer Israeli actions in Gaza last summer to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israel has withheld the transfer of Palestinian tax money.

AFP quotes senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat who said in reference to Operation Protective Edge, “The main files will be the aggression against Gaza and the settlement file,” while Ynet says a Palestinian legal figure conferred that a case is being prepared over the summer Gaza conflict. Last week, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute, which paves the way to joining the ICC and potential legal action against Israeli leaders and officials. The unilateral move was condemned by both Israel and the United States, as it is likely to create barriers to a future negotiated agreement.

In response to the Palestinian ICC application, Israel froze around £83 million in Palestinian tax revenues which it collects on behalf of the PA leadership. Haaretz quotes an unnamed Israeli senior official who said, “The funds for the month of December were supposed to be transferred on Friday, but it was decided to stop it as part of the response to the Palestinian move.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet yesterday that Israel will not allow its soldiers to face prosecution at the ICC, pledging “just as they are protecting us we will protect them, with the same determination and strength.” He said that in fact, “It is the Palestinian Authority leaders – who have allied with the war criminals of Hamas – who must be called to account.” If the Palestinian application is accepted, it would see the extension of ICC jurisdiction to the Gaza Strip and West Bank, which may expose Palestinians to prosecutions as much as Israelis. Media reports suggest that Netanyahu has already approved a committee to compile such cases.

Meanwhile, Abbas is quoted by Reuters saying that he plans to re-submit a motion to the United Nations Security Council, which last week did not approve a resolution to mandate an Israeli West Bank withdrawal.