Dubai: Palestine is free to file charges of war crimes against Israel, if it so decides. That’s the position taken by ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
Writing in British newspaper The Guardian on Friday, Bensouda stated that her office had never avoided opening such an investigation due to political pressure, but in fact lacked the jurisdiction to act due to Palestine’s lack of party to the Rome statute.
Bensouda sighted that since Palestine’s upgrade to non-member observer state in 2012, it had both the freedom and volition to sign up to the International Criminal Court and file complaints for investigation.
The Jerusalem Post described the article as “a highly uncharacteristic public venue for her [Bensouda] to articulate her office’s usually closely held official positions”
Criticism had mounted in recent weeks that political influence had been affecting the ICC’s alleged reluctance to take on Israel, and Bensouda’s article itself was a response to a highly critical piece published in The Guardian earlier last week.
She went on to state that whilst Palestine has signed up to many international treaties, it had not signed up to the ICC’s founding charter, The Rome Statute, stating that “the decision is theirs alone”.
The clarification comes amid a recent round of fighting in which more than 2,100 Palestinians and 71 Israelis died.
Bensouda also used the article to react to criticism that the ICC was subject to political influence stating that “As prosecutor of the ICC, I reject any suggestion of this in the strongest terms”.
Although Palestine has not yet made an official attempt to sign up to the 1998 Rome Statue, Palestinian officials are believed to be privately contemplating the decision. Whilst Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to file such a case Israel if does not agree to border talks.
Originally published in Gulf News