Mahmoud Abbas has suggested that Palestine could approach the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the issue of Israel's plans to build 3,000 settlement housing units in the occupied West Bank. The President of the Palestinian Authority was speaking during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, in Ankara. Abbas is on an official visit to the Turkish capital.
"I am not inclined to resort to this, but if Israel insists on its unacceptable project, we could then resort to other means," he said, "including the possibility of litigation at the ICC."
Abbas added, "If Israel chooses peace, we are completely ready and prepared, but if it chooses settlement construction, especially in the E1 area, then we will act accordingly."
The PA leader described the recent announcement of the Israeli government to establish new settlement neighbourhoods on occupied Palestinian territory around Jerusalem as "a hostile act", and pointed out that such construction is a violation of international treaties, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Although observers believe that the prosecution of Israeli officials at the ICC is "unlikely" in the short-term, Turkey's President Gul denounced the settlement proposals and urged Israel "not to play with fire".
Turkey supports the Palestinian cause and has had fraught relations with Israel since the murderous assault by Israeli commandos on a humanitarian aid convoy heading to Gaza in 2010, during which nine Turkish citizens were killed.