THE Palestinian leadership has received support from a group of
human-rights and development organisations for its accession to the
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) - a move
that has been denounced by the United States and Israel.
Supporters of the Palestinian Authority (PA) include Amnesty
International, Broederlijk Delen, Christian Aid, and Pax Christi
Flanders. The group said that the accession of Palestine to the ICC
would "deter war crimes and end impunity in the region".
The Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty
International, Philip Luther, said: "This move by the Palestinians
could help to address violations of international law by giving
both sides access to justice for war crimes and crimes against
In the view of the Middle East policy officer at Broederlijk
Delen and Pax Christi Flanders, Willem Staes, the ICC should not be
seen as an obstacle to peace negotiations, but rather as "a crucial
instrument to break the decades-old culture of impunity in the
The president of the Inter-national Federation for Human Rights,
Karim Lahidji, said he believed that accountability was a "vital
ingredient to resolving any conflict. . . By accepting the
jurisdiction of the ICC, Palestine is upholding international
The groups have urged the EU and its member states to welcome
Palestine's ratification of the Rome Statute, and regretted that
the new High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica
Mogherini, missed the opportunity to do so in her recent statement.
The EU had "committed to promote the universal adhesion to the Rome
Statute. . . . It should stand by this commitment."
The policy and advocacy officer for Israel and the Palestinians
at Christian Aid, William Bell, said that the EU and European
states were "strong advocates of the ICC's role; it would be
hypocritical and short-sighted to make an exception in this case.
Advocating the impartial use of international justice mechanisms is
not about taking sides, but rather about ensuring all parties are
held to account for serious international crimes and protected by
international criminal law."
President Obama, and the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin
Netanyahu, discussed their joint opposition to the move in a
tele-phone conversation on Monday. The White House said that
Presid-ent Obama "does not believe Palestinian accession to the ICC
is a constructive way forward", and repeated the US position that
the Palestinian Authority (PA) was not a sovereign state, and did
not qualify to join the court.
The human-rights organisations supporting the PA have urged "all
actors, including Israel and the US, to halt or rescind any
retaliation measures against Palestine, and instead recognise the
benefit of introducing an element of accountability. Rather than
sanctioning Palestine, Israel and the US should also sign up to the