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Justice minister: PA prepping for ICC membership

Oct. 17, 2009 11:12 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 23, 2009 4:48 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Minister of Justice Ali Al-Khashan presented documents to the attorney general of the International Criminal Court on Friday, which outlined allegations of Israeli war crimes committed prior to the war on Gaza.

Al-Khashan said he also answered several inquiries from the court that would guarantee Palestine a place within the Rome Statute and thus full membership at the court. He said in a phone interview that he and a delegation were preparing papers requested by the court in preparation for full membership.

In order to become a member, a state must sign then ratify the Rome Statute. Once a state is a member of the ICC, the court can proceed with investigations into crimes which may have occurred on the territory of the member, or by a national of the member. The member is obligated to surrender suspects from their state once they have ratified the agreement. Members are also entitled to vote in the ICC’s governing body.

He cautioned, however, that those waiting for ICC action on alleged Israeli war crimes should “have patience” since “we do not have any documentation for the Israeli crimes,” but said membership in the international body would give Palestinians the “ability to confront with peaceful follow-up the revelation of Israeli war crimes.”

The minister said the efforts were a continuation of previous efforts to gain membership at the court. He noted that “the Palestinian Authority is following up steps that were made previously to gain membership in the Rome agreement.”

“The Goldstone report set out mechanisms [leading to the prosecution of Israeli war criminals], and the Human Rights Council set out mechanisms that clarified those steps,” Al-Khasham said, “now the PA is carrying out those steps.”

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