The International Criminal Court's (ICC) chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said on Tuesday that the court is unable to investigate possible Israeli crimes against Palestinians until Palestine has joined the Rome statute, which governs the court's activities, As-Sabeel newspaper reported.
In a statement, the newspaper quoted Bensouda as saying: "The reason that no investigation had been opened was that the court lacks jurisdiction. The prosecutor can only investigate and prosecute crimes committed on the territory or by the nationals of states that have joined the ICC statute."
Last Friday, in an article published by the Guardian newspaper, Bensouda strongly rejected allegations that the ICC had avoided opening an investigation into Israel's alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip due to political pressure.
Bensouda explained that a Palestinian request to join the ICC was rejected back in April 2012 because, at the time, Palestine's status at the United Nations as an "observer entity" did not qualify it for participation in the statute.
However, that changed in November 2012, when Palestine's UN status was upgraded to "non-member observer" status. As a result, "Palestine could now join the Rome statute," she wrote.
The Palestinian Authority has already joined several international treaties, but according to Bensouda, so far the Rome statute was not among them.
"To date, the statute is not one of the treaties that Palestine has decided to accede to, nor has it lodged a new declaration following the November 2012 general assembly resolution," Bensouda said.
She continued: "The decision is theirs alone and as ICC prosecutor, I cannot make it for them."