PA President Abbas
Photo: AFP
Palestinian ministers want Israel probed
Ministers say Palestine is legal state, can therefore ask for probe on 'war crimes' since 2002

Two Palestinian ministers Friday pressed the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to launch a probe into Israeli war crimes they claim have been committed against Palestinians since 2002.


The Palestinian Authority's foreign minister Riad al-Malki and his justice counterpart Ali Kashan told reporters they had submitted documents to ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo that prove Palestine is a legal state with the right to request such a probe.


"Today we came to deliver a set of documents that shows that Palestine as a state ... has the ability to present a case to the court and to ask for an investigation into crimes committed by the Israeli army," Kashan said on the steps outside the ICC in The Hague after a four-hour meeting.


"We will deliver more information about war crimes and crimes against humanity – not only in Gaza during the last Israeli attack, but also from 2002 until this moment," he added.


Evidence of war crimes was among the documents provided, said Kashan.


Moreno-Ocampo said earlier this month he would determine whether there was such a legal entity as a Palestinian state, a precursor to a possible probe of war crimes during Israel's military offensive against Hamas in Gaza in January.


The Rome Statute that created the ICC determines that only a state could accept the court's jurisdiction for such an investigation to be launched.


Malki said documents were provided that show Palestine was recognised as a state by 67 countries and had bilateral agreements with states in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.


"Our president has been visiting many European countries recently, France, Italy, Poland, and was received as the president of Palestine. His visits were considered to be state visits," he said.


Palestine was also a full member of the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Countries and the Non-Aligned Movement, the minister said.


Describing themselves as "fighters for human rights", the ministers said the Palestinians had been "looking for justice for a very long time".


"What we seek here is justice," Malki said. "We want to create a precedent."

While the final decision was up to Moreno-Ocampo, "we are going back confident", the minister said, adding that no indication was given of a time-frame.


Malki said Hamas was not party to the ICC initiative. "We represent the Palestinian occupied territories. We are not going to ask permission from one faction or another," he said.


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