RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestine’s accession to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1, announced Jan. 6 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will provide an opportunity to investigate Israeli leaders on charges of alleged war crimes. This, in turn, will have an impact on the nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its instruments. After signing the Rome Treaty, the Palestinians will be allowed to present legal filings lodging complaints against Israeli officials at the court, but such moves also present obligations and challenges for Palestinian institutional authorities.
An ICC prosecutor announced Jan. 16 that the court would open a preliminary investigation into possible Israeli war crimes committed against Palestinians since June 2014, the month before the most recent Gaza war began. This came after Palestine submitted a declaration Jan. 1 to the ICC stating its acceptance of the court’s jurisdiction retroactively to June 13, 2014. Under Article 3.12 of the Rome Statute establishing the ICC, the court thus acquired judicial authority to investigate alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, since the June date.