News Middle East

Thursday 18 September 2014

Moves to try Israel for 'war
 crimes' at ICC

Inna Lazareva

Published 16/08/2014 | 02:30

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Reuters

Palestinian leaders are ready to take Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over "war crimes" later this month, a leading Palestinian negotiator has said.

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Saeb Erekat, one of the key architects of the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians, issued the warning as ceasefire negotiations continued in Cairo.

British prime minister David Cameron and fellow Western leaders must stop their "shameful" defence of Israeli military action, he said in his only interview with a British newspaper during the current conflict, which has killed more than 1,960 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.

"I can assure you now, that business as usual will be no more. Status quo no more," he said from his office in Ramallah.

"If the international community, the Camerons, the Kerrys, the Fabiuses [Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister] of this Earth - after these massacres that have been committed against the Palestinians - will just tell the Palestinians and Israelis: 'We invite you back to negotiate' - this is not going to happen." Mr Erekat said that the Palestinian Authority intended to become a member of the International Criminal Court "this month", in an effort to hold Israel accountable for possible war crimes committed in Gaza. "We believe that Israel as an occupying power has no right to bombard an area that it occupies like Gaza with missiles, with F15s, F16s, [and] Apaches. We believe that these are the war crimes," he said.

He added that his country was "96 per cent ready" to sign the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.

"In Britain, if someone attacks British citizens or kills them, you have a navy, an air force, an army that goes and defends them. I don't have any of this. So I defend my people through international legal means," Mr Erekat said.

"I want the Israelis to defend themselves in the ICC - and not to say that they are defending themselves with missiles, massacring women and children."

Palestinians have long talked about the possibility of asking the ICC to investigate Israel, but by signing the Rome Statute, the Palestinians also expose themselves to possible war crime investigations. "We're willing and ready, we have been defending ourselves with our blood, and the blood of our children and grandchildren, and we're willing. "

(© Daily Telegraph)

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