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Palestinians Set to Apply to the International Criminal Court

Say they are losing hope in a diplomatic solution

A day after the United Nations Security Council voted against a resolution to set a date for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, Palestinian officials say they will take “immediate” steps to join international conventions, including the International Criminal Court (ICC), a move long opposed by Israel and the US. It will enable Palestinians to charge Israeli military and diplomatic officials with war crimes at the ICC Court in the Hague.

“Joining the ICC is another unnecessary and unhelpful step by the Palestinian leadership which will take us further from the track of negotiations,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon told The Media Line. “The Palestinians should not forget that if they join the ICC they will also be liable for terror and hatred promoted by the Palestinian Authority.”

Palestinians are angry that the Security Council voted down their resolution, even though the US had said that it would veto the proposal if it passed the Security Council. They said that Nigeria, which had been expected to vote in favor, voted against the resolution after heavy pressure from the US and Israel.

“The Americans should be asked if they advanced the cause of peace by putting pressure on certain countries not to vote in favor,” Xavier Abu Eid, a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) told the Media Line. “The Americans should be asked if using their veto 41 times against the rights of the Palestinian people has changed anything for the better. I think the US attitude is helping to close off any chance of a political horizon and strengthens those who believe in violence.”

There had been some speculation that the US will now try to re-launch Israeli-Palestinian bilateral peace talks, as they did at the beginning of the year. But most Israeli analysts say that little is expected to happen until after the Israeli elections on March 17.

Last month, a series of attacks swept through Jerusalem, including the horrific attack on worshippers in a synagogue. Tensions on both sides continue to run high. Palestinians say a laborer was crushed to death at an Israeli checkpoint near the West Bank city of Tulkarem as he was crossing into Israel for a construction job. Israeli troops have killed two Palestinian youths this month, after they allegedly threw rocks at troops.

There is some concern that angry Palestinians will react to the no vote in the Security Council with a new wave of attacks on Israel. At the same time, even if the Security Council had voted to discuss the resolution, the US would have used its veto.

Palestinian officials say their population is losing hope that diplomacy will achieve any gains for them.

“Palestinians lost hope a long time ago,” Abu Eid said. “We are trying to open a political horizon for them. When people see what happens in the Security Council with a resolution that does not contradict by a single comma US and European policy, they believe their legitimate aspirations won’t come true.”

At the same time, Palestinian officials say they will keep pushing the international community to recognize a Palestinian state, and say Israel should expect a hard time in the ICC.