A “pre-trial” chamber of three judges of the International Criminal Court ruled Friday the territories of Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem are all under its jurisdiction, reported i24 News.
Alleging Israel has been illegally “occupying” the territories since 1967, the court argued that the Palestinian government’s joining of the Rome Statute imparts ICC jurisdiction over the areas mentioned above.
Adopted in 1998, the Rome Statute established the ICC with the court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed within member states and by individual citizens of those states.
In a dissenting opinion, the presiding judge over the chamber, Judge Péter Kovács disagreed with qualifying the West Bank and Gaza as a state signatory of the Rome Statute.
The ruling was sharply criticized in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stating “the ICC proved once again that it is a political body and not a judicial institution.”
Vowing earlier to investigate alleged war crimes committed within the territories by both Israeli and Palestinian forces, the court was waiting on a ruling to certify jurisdiction over the territories before initiating any subsequent investigations.
While no probe is expected in the near future, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced she would look into the 2014 Gaza war between Israeli and Palestinian militant groups, the 2018 Gaza border protests and disputed Israeli settlements in the disputed territories, wrote Algemeiner.
The ICC ruling came just several weeks after the closing out of the Trump administration, where the U.S. brought sanctions against two ICC officials, including Bensouda.
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