/ 7 January 2015

Palestine joins the ICC

Thomas Ramahlo in front of his home in Winnie Mandela informal settlement in Tembisa.
Thomas Ramahlo in front of his home in Winnie Mandela informal settlement in Tembisa.

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has confirmed that Palestine will become an official member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1, the UN press office said on Wednesday.

The Palestinians delivered documents to the UN’s headquarterson on Friday, joining the Rome Statute of the ICC and other international treaties, in a move that has heightened tensions with Israel and could lead to cuts in United States aid.

Under ICC rules, Palestinian membership would allow the court, based in The Hague, to exercise jurisdiction over war crimes committed by anyone on Palestinian territory, without a referral from the UN Security Council.

Israel, like the United States, is not a party to the Rome statute, but its citizens could be tried for actions taken on Palestinian land.

The official announcement of the date of the Palestinian accession to the ICC, in the form of a letter from Ban, was posted on a UN website. The UN is the official depositary of the Rome Statute and many other treaties.

The Palestinian government signed the Rome Statute on December 31, a day after a bid for independence by 2017 failed at the UN Security Council.

The Palestinians, who have been locked in a bloody conflict with Israel for decades, seek a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – lands Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War.

Momentum to recognise a Palestinian state has built since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas succeeded in a bid for de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly in 2012, which made Palestinians eligible to join the ICC. – Reuters