UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has confirmed that the Palestinians will officially become a member of the International Criminal Court on April 1, the U.N. press office said on Wednesday.
On Friday the Palestinians delivered to U.N. headquarters documents on joining the Rome Statute of the ICC and other international treaties, in a move that has heightened tensions with Israel and could lead to cuts in U.S. aid.
The official announcement of the date of the Palestinian accession to the ICC, in the form of a letter from Ban, was posted on a U.N. website. The United Nations is the official depositary of the Rome Statute and many other treaties.
Under ICC rules, Palestinian membership would allow the court, based in The Hague, to exercise jurisdiction over war crimes committed by anyone on Palestinian territory, without a referral from the U.N. Security Council. Israel, like the United States, is not a party to the Rome statute, but its citizens could be tried for actions taken on Palestinian land.
The Palestinian government signed the Rome Statute on Dec. 31, a day after a bid for independence by 2017 failed at the U.N. Security Council.
The Palestinians, who have been locked in a bloody conflict with Israel for decades, seek a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem - lands Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War.
Momentum to recognize a Palestinian state has built since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas succeeded in a bid for de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood at the U.N. General Assembly in 2012, which made Palestinians eligible to join the ICC.
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Paul Simao)