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Palestinians sue Israel for war crimes
September 12, 2018
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RAMALLAH:  A top official said on Tuesday the Palestinians have filed a new complaint against Israel with the International Criminal court, after the United States said it would resort to any means to protect its allies against such actions at the international war crimes body.

The move comes a day after the US closed the Palestinian de facto embassy in Washington because of its leaders’ refusal to enter peace talks with Israel. National security adviser John Bolton also lashed out at the Palestinians for their attempts to have Israel prosecuted at the ICC, denouncing the court’s legitimacy and threatening sanctions if it targeted Israel and others.

But at a press conference in Ramallah, Saeb Erekat doubled down by saying the Palestinians have asked the ICC to investigate Israel’s planned demolition of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al Ahmar in the West Bank. He also indicated the Palestinians plan to join other international bodies.

Erekat said the Palestinians have asked the chief prosecutor to meet with village representatives and include Israel’s actions as part of her investigation into possible war crimes by Israel.

“The US threats against the ICC are a coup against the rules in the international system,” he said. “The Trump administration wants to dismantle the international order to ensure that it can stay above the laws and escape accountability.”

Israel has long denounced Palestinian efforts to globalize their conflict by turning to external bodies with what it considers bogus claims. In particular, it says the ICC lacks jurisdiction because Israel is not a member of the court.

Five European countries have urged Israel not to raze Khan Al Ahmar in the occupied West Bank, where authorities are allowed to move ahead with the demolition as early as Wednesday.

France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain on Monday issued a renewed call for Israel not to demolish the village of Khan Al Ahmar, where around 200 people live.

“The consequences a demolition and displacement would have on the residents of this community, including their children, as well as on the prospects of the two-state solution would be very serious,” the countries said in a joint statement.

On Sept.5, Israel’s supreme court upheld an order to raze the village on grounds that it was built without the proper permits.

Palestinians say it is virtually impossible for them to obtain Israeli permits to build in Area C of the West Bank, where Khan al-Ahmar is situated.

An order preventing the village’s demolition expires within seven days of the supreme court ruling, meaning Israeli authorities can move against the village, as early as Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliki said on Tuesday US President Donald Trump’s decision to halt funding to UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA was an attack on international law.

The US decision has left UNRWA seeking a shortfall of $200 million from Gulf and European states and has further strained tensions between the Trump administration and Palestinian leadership.

Ties with Washington have sharply deteriorated since Trump last year decided to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing decades of US policy and prompting Arab warnings that it could fuel crises in the region. The international community, with exceptions including Israel, criticised the move.

“The US administration has begun to attack the rights of the Palestinian people and international law,” Maliki said at a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo convened to discuss the issue.


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