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Palestinian Minister Submits Request to ICC to Expand Probe of Israeli

Rabat – The Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Riyad al-Malki submitted a state party referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday, requesting that the ICC open a full investigation into Israeli settlements and “war crimes” in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Jerusalem.The state party referral would expand the ongoing preliminary investigation of Israeli settlements and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) actions during the 2014 Gaza war.The Palestinian state party referral is widely viewed as an entreaty for justice in light of the recent US embassy relocation to Jerusalem and the corresponding Israeli military violence. Gaza officials report that 62 Palestinians were killed and over 2,000 were wounded by IDF soldiers during protests of the US embassy move on Monday, May 14. Thousands more were injured in the days leading up to the move during the “Great Return March” protests, which began on March 30.In a statement to AFP, the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said, “My staff is vigilantly following developments on the ground and recording any alleged crime…The violence must stop.”Bensouda also expressed the necessity for IDF soldiers to cease the “excessive use of force.”In response to the Palestinian state party referral submission, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement denouncing Palestine for working to “derail” the ICC’s mandate. The Israeli statement also accused protesters of using women and children as human shields on the Gaza border.Peace talks between Palestine and Israel have not progressed since 2014, and Palestinian officials have rejected the US as a mediating body entirely, as the Trump administration suggests the impending release of its “deal of the century.”Although Israel is not party to ICC arbitration, Palestinian officials hope the international court investigation would yield international arrest warrants for indicted Israeli officials.Several international bodies, including the UN, have declared the Israeli settlements as a “flagrant violation under international law,” specifically UN Resolution 2334.According to the Israeli NGO Peace Now, the “past few months have seen unprecedented development promoting settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” referring to the “quantum leap” in settlement construction as a “de-facto annexation” of Palestinian land under international law. read more