The Palestine Liberation Organisation’s chief negotiator reiterated on Monday that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has already opened an initial investigation into Israeli settlements and alleged war crimes committed last year in the Gaza Strip, Anadolu has reported.
“By signing the Rome Statute,” explained Saeb Erekat, “we have already completed the first step.” The actual investigation, he added, will begin when Palestine accedes to the ICC fully on 1 April.
Erekat noted that Palestine’s status at the UN, as a state under occupation, is a status similar to that of France and Belgium under German occupation during the Second World War, and Philippines and Korea under the Japanese. “This status qualifies us to join 523 international conventions, protocols and organisations,” he pointed out. “We have to practice rights.”
He laid emphasis on the fact that certain bodies in the international area, “including the United State”, have been trying to prevent Palestine from using the ICC as a means to obtain justice. “I tell them that we are the victims and that it is the side which is afraid of accountability which has to stop its crimes. They have to go for the criminal state and pressure it to stop its crimes.”
Erekat said that they are preparing all the necessary files regarding Israeli settlements and offensive against Gaza to be ready by 1 April. “This does not mean there are no more files regarding other crimes,” he said. “Israeli land confiscation, house demolition, assassination, expulsion and detention are all crimes.”
When asked about a report that Israel is using the withheld Palestinian tax revenues as a bargaining tool over the ICC, the veteran negotiator described the freeze as “piracy” which should be stopped. “This measure is a war crime… The Israeli report about bargaining is nothing.”