Senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh on Friday urged the Palestinian Authority’s leadership to sign the Rome Statute and hold Israel accountable for its “crimes in Gaza” at the International Criminal Court.
Haniyeh said in a statement quoted by the Ma’an news agency that “signing the Rome Statute is the right for every victim and stalling is neglecting their rights and an offense to the image of Palestinians.”
The Palestinian Arab leadership must not “neglect” the rights of the victims of “Israel’s military assault on Gaza”, Haniyeh said, urging PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to sign the Rome Statute.
Hamas signed a proposal for the PA to apply to join the ICC in August.
There has so far been no probe as the PA is not an ICC member state and its status as a state is uncertain in some international institutions.
However, the PA in late November 2012 unilaterally obtained the status of an observer state at the United Nations, opening the door for a possible ICC investigation.
The PA has been threatening for years that it will sue Israel at the ICC. The PA’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, recently met with ICC officials and inquired about the legal procedures necessary for the PA to join the ICC and sign the Rome Statute, thus allowing it to take action against possible Israeli war crimes in Gaza.
PA officials realize, however, that joining the ICC is a calculated risk because it would give Israel a forum to pursue war crimes charges against the PA as well and particularly against Hamas.
In a recent interview, the PA’s envoy to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) admitted the PA has no hope of pressing charges against Israel in international courts – because Palestinian terrorist groups are far worse violators of international law themselves.
Noting concerns that Israel could launch legal offensives of its own against the PA should it sign up to the ICC, the presenter asked whether such a move would be realistic. The response was unequivocal.
“The missiles that are now being launched against Israel – each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets,” he said.