Palestinian plea to ICC could speed up war crime probe

Palestinian plea to ICC could speed up war crime probe

Mr Al Maliki was accompanied by a police escort and ushered into the ICC, where he was met by court officials at the door. The ministry says that Palestinian people "continue to suffer from ongoing, widespread and systematic crimes" committed by Israel.

Israel said it took a "severe view" of the Palestinian request and called on the ICC to reject the "cynical step".

Last week, Bensouda announced that the Court's officials were watching the unrest in Gaza closely and would "take any action warranted" to prosecute crimes.

Malki called the request an important "test" of accountability for the ICC. The United States asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to paralyze allegations before ICC in order not to undermine Democrat Barack Obama's presidential mediation efforts against Israel.

Bensouda confirmed she had received the referral and said in her statement she had "to consider issues of jurisdiction, admissibility and the interests of justice" in deciding what to do.

Since March, Israel has killed more than 108 Palestinians and wounded thousands in Gaza through its use of live ammunition to disperse peaceful protests for the Right of Return.

Maliki said the Palestinian move was "due to the intensification of the rate and the severity of the crimes against our people", including the targeting of "unarmed protestors in the Gaza Strip".

The Israeli response reflected Israel's strong opposition to the court's potential entanglement in the protracted Israeli-Palestinian dispute and the possibility that Israeli leaders could be indicted - even if by a court they do not recognize.

"The Referral covers past, present, and future Israeli actions to promote, expand, and entrench the settlement regime, perpetrated by, or with the assistance of, the government of Israel or its agents and accomplices in the occupied territory of the State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem", a Palestinian statement said.

"The ICC lacks jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian issue, since Israel is not a member of the court and because the Palestinian Authority is not a state", the Israeli ministry added in a statement.

Israel has been building settler units across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (al-Quds), since 1967, when it occupied the territory during an all-out war.

Under global law it is illegal to transfer populations out of or into occupied territory.

If the ICC were to show intellectual honesty in this case, it could end up ruling that the Israeli settlements are not a violation of the convention and therefore not at all a war crime.

It notes that in the case of Gaza, for instance, it uprooted all settlements there when it withdrew in 2005.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership of Fatah has frozen ties with the White House over its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The renewed PLO push at the ICC, is just one of a number of Palestinian activities against Israel on the global stage over the last five days.