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Rights groups urge Palestine to join ICC

May 9, 2014 10:33 A.M. (Updated: May 11, 2014 12:57 P.M.)
LONDON (AFP) -- Human rights groups including Amnesty International on Thursday urged Palestine to sign up to the International Criminal Court.

Seventeen local and international human rights organisations made the request in a joint letter to President Mahmoud Abbas, Amnesty said.

The London-based organisation said if Palestine "signed up to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Court would have jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on Palestinian territories and by its nationals elsewhere."

The joint letter urged Abbas to "take the necessary steps for Palestine to become a party" to the ICC.

"Doing so would send an important message that entrenched impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on Palestinian territories must end once and for all,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa program director.

In April, Abbas signed membership applications for 15 UN agencies and international treaties, beginning with the Fourth Geneva Convention, which defines humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone.

"This is not a move against America, or any other party -- it is our right," he said at the time.

Israel maintains its position that the Palestinian Authority which Abbas heads fall short of the criteria for statehood.

The United States and Israel have lobbied strongly against UN recognition of the Palestinians, arguing that a separate state can only be achieved through direct negotiations.
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