World Bulletin / News Desk
Palestine will raise the stakes in a legal battle with Israel on Wednesday when it joins the International Criminal Court, but any case over alleged crimes in the occupied territories is unlikely to come to trial for some years. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has commenced a preliminary investigation into Israel's crimes and settlement activities in the Palestinian territories, a senior Palestinian official said Monday.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday that The Hague-based court also started investigating "war crimes" committed by Israel during the latest offensive on the Gaza Strip.
Fatou Bensouda, the ICC's chief prosecutor, opened a preliminary examination in January into alleged crimes committed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. This pro-forma step followed the Palestinians' acceptance of the court's jurisdiction on Jan. 1, a prelude to membership on April 1.
She must now decide whether there are grounds to proceed with a full investigation, taking into account issues including whether the court even has jurisdiction.
That analysis can take years - the ICC previously launched a preliminary examination of a Palestinian case in 2009, only to conclude in April 2012 that it didn't have jurisdiction.
While that major legal obstacle has been cleared, the prosecutor still has unlimited time to decide if there are grounds for an investigation, let alone a trial.
That said, the Palestinians feel that the momentum is with them and the time is ripe for action.
"We want those most responsible for the most serious crimes to be prosecuted," a Palestinian official said this week. "The panic attacks we've seen (from Israel) suggest we are not the only ones to take the court seriously."
Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Nisan 2015, 12:18