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Published: Wed, May 23, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Palestine Presses International Criminal Court for Immediate Action Against Israel

Palestine Presses International Criminal Court for Immediate Action Against Israel

The ICC has recognized "Palestine" as a member state.

Commenting on the Palestinian referral to the ICC on Tuesday, the Israeli foreign ministry said the request is "legally invalid". "Israel maintains, expands, and protects the settlement regime by committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people", it added.

Al-Malki was accompanied by a police escort and ushered into the ICC, where he met ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to hand over a referral over Israeli settlements.

Leading Western states regularly visited by Israeli officials have so far strictly resisted calls by human rights groups to apprehend the officials over the regime's atrocities against Palestinians.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has signaled that she will not be rushed into making a decision on whether to launch an investigation into alleged crimes by Israel in the Palestinian territories.

"We will remain undeterred in our efforts to pursue all diplomatic and legal channels to hold Israel to account at the ICC and other multinational organizations and agencies and to defend our people's right to self-determination, justice and freedom".

The meeting at the ICC comes amid heightened tensions in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, after more than 60 Palestinians protesting the USA decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem were killed by Israeli fire last week.

Despite a visit to the region, the tribunal has yet to move to the next stage and open a full-blown investigation which could possibly lead to charges being brought.

The Palestinian foreign minister told a room full of reporters it was "a test the ICC can not afford to fail", and said "the State of Palestine is seeking justice and redress, not revenge".

A four-ship Freedom Flotilla has set sail for the Gaza Strip to challenge Israel's decade-old blockade of the besieged territory.

Palestine gained United Nations observer state status five years ago and later joined the ICC, which has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals. Israel has accused Gaza's rulers, Hamas, of exploiting protesting civilians and using them as human shields to carry out attacks.

In 2004, the U.N.'s highest judicial organ, the International Court of Justice, ruled in an advisory opinion that the settlements breached international law.

In late 2016, the UN Security Council also declared the settlements to be illegal.

According to reports, the referral seeks an investigation into Israeli policies in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. Israel captured both territories from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war. It says east Jerusalem is an inseparable part of its capital, and considers the West Bank to be disputed territory whose fate should be decided in negotiations.

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

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