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Israel says Palestinians hypocritical for joining ICC

April 2, 2015 9:38 A.M. (Updated: April 3, 2015 7:28 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israel denounced the Palestinian decision to join the International Criminal Court in order to seek to prosecute Israeli officials as hypocritical on Wednesday.

"The Palestinian decision to join the ICC to initiate judicial proceedings against Israel is political, cynical and hypocritical," the foreign ministry said.

Palestine formally joined the ICC Wednesday in a closed-door ceremony at the court's headquarters in The Hague.

"The government of the Palestinian Authority, which is associated with the deadly terrorist Hamas committing war crimes... is the last to be able to threaten legal action" before the court, a statement said.

Unilateral Palestinian actions such as joining the ICC are "violations of the principles established between the two parties with the support of the international community to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict," it added.

Exasperated after decades of failed negotiations with Israel and no prospect of achieving statehood anytime soon, the move to join the ICC came as Palestinians have been waging a campaign for recognition by several international bodies.

Recently reelected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a Palestinian state would not be established under his watch, verbally affirming what many Palestinians saw as an unspoken policies already carried out by Netanyahu for years.

In addition to failed negotiation, the decision was also made in response to an Israeli military court system that promotes impunity for members of the Israeli forces rather than effectively enforcing the law.

"Palestine seeks justice, not vengeance," Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki said after receiving a symbolic copy of the Rome Statute at the ceremony.

"Israel should join us in becoming a member of the International Criminal Court," Malki said.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in January launched a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes during last year's Gaza war.

The war between Palestinian militant groups and Israel left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, according to Palestinian and UN officials. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians were killed. Over 100,000 Gazans lost their homes, and large swathes of the coastal territory were left in ruins.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "should not be afraid ... if Israel has any complaints (against us) they should join and present their case to the ICC," added Maliki.

Palestinian groups have expressed a sense of indifference to Israeli threats of bringing Palestinian actors to the ICC in retaliation.

Human rights group Amnesty International recently released a report accusing Hamas of war crimes during last summer's war. In a response last week, the Hamas said that it is the right of Palestinians to defend themselves against both the ongoing Israeli occupation and Israeli military offenses.

"War crimes have clear specifications, according to the Rome Statute, that do not in any way apply to the Palestinian resistance, which was, is, and will defend its people."

AFP contributed to this report.
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