Palestinian minister to hand 'war crimes' files to ICC

AP News
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Posted: Jun 25, 2015 8:44 AM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Palestinian foreign minister was visiting the International Criminal Court on Thursday to hand prosecutors files detailing possible Israeli war crimes in Gaza and settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The files being taken to court by Riad Malki feed into a preliminary investigation by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda into possible crimes on Palestinian territory.

Bensouda's initial probe aims to establish if there is enough evidence to merit opening a full-scale investigation that could ultimately lead to charges against both Israelis and Palestinians. It is not clear how long the process will take.

In a statement ahead of the presentation, the Palestinians said the information includes "statistics on settlements, prisoners, as well as statistics on Israel's aggression and attack on Gaza 2014."

The filing, "confirms that the absence of accountability has led to the recurrence of violations and crimes and will continue to do so if gone unchecked," the Palestinian statement said, adding that it refers to "war crimes and crimes committed by individuals of the Israeli leadership."

The move comes just days after a separate investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Council accused both sides of committing possible war crimes in last summer's Gaza War. The council's report is also being studied by investigators at the ICC.

The Palestinian Authority joined the international court this year.

Israel is not a member and rejects the court's authority.

"This is a Palestinian attempt to manipulate and politicize the judicial mechanisms of the ICC," said Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "We hope that the prosecutor will not fall in that trap."

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Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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This story has been edited to correct the day from Wednesday to Thursday.