WASHINGTON, Jan 17 — The US strongly criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s decision to open a preliminary inquiry into possible Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.
“We strongly disagree with the ICC Prosecutor’s action today,” Director of the US State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs Jeff Rathke said in a press statement issued late Friday.
The US reiterated also its opposition to the ICC to accept Palestine’s membership.
“As we have said repeatedly, we do not believe that Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC,” Rathke added.
“It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC.”
The US underlined that direct negotiations are the only way to resolve differences among Palestinians and Israelis.
“The place to resolve the differences between the parties is through direct negotiations, not unilateral actions by either side. We will continue to oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive to the cause of peace,” Rathke stressed.
On Friday, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda announced the launching of a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine.
He stated that the decision follows the Government of Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute on 2 January 2015 and its declaration of January 1, 2015, accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC over alleged crimes committed “in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014.”
The ICC confirmed that its prosecutors would examine “in full independence and impartiality” crimes that may have occurred on Palestinian territories since June 13 last year.
This move allows the court to examine the Israeli war on Gaza in July-August 2014 during which more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has confirmed the Palestinians – whose peace talks with Israel have collapsed – will formally become an ICC member on April 1 at their request, a move strongly opposed by Israel and the United States.
The ICC, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, is the court of last resort for its 122 member states, aiming to hold the powerful accountable for the most heinous crimes when national authorities are unable or unwilling to act.