A three-judge panel that comprises the International Criminal Court's (ICC) pretrial chamber has requested clarification from the Palestinian Authority (PA) over President Mahmoud Abbas' statement regarding the termination of all agreements with Israel.
The justices are attempting to find out whether Abbas' remarks apply to the Oslo Accords - signed in 1993 and 1995 - which helped establish the Palestinian Authority as an entity.
The judges, who will deliberate and then rule whether the court has the jurisdiction to open a criminal investigation into alleged Israel Defense Forces (IDF) war crimes in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem, have given Ramallah a June 10 deadline to respond.
Abbas' explosive response, emitted in a fit of pique regarding Israel's continued push to declare sovereignty over certain parts of the West Bank, may have put the PA in somewhat of a bind.
"If it renounces the agreement that for the first time granted it autonomy in the areas it claims for its state, and thus hands the keys back to Israel, how can it argue that Palestine is a sovereign state that can transfer jurisdiction to The Hague for a war crimes investigation?" an Israeli official noted.
In addition to the deadline the court gave the PA, it has ordered chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who has partially based her opinion of the ICC's authority to launch the probe on the Oslo Accords, to respond to the Palestinian's answer by June 14. On April 30, she reiterated her claim that Palestine is a state.
The three-judge panel is comprised of Péter Kovács of Hungary, Marc Perrin de Brichambaut of France and Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou of Benin. Their decision is not strictly timebound, but it is thought likely they will hand down a ruling within approximately 90 days.
The court has invited Israel to contribute a response to any further information Ramallah may provide, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government are wary of seeming to provide legitimacy to the court. In one of his first public pronouncements as newly reinstalled prime minister, Netanyahu described the potential criminal proceedings as a "serious strategic threat.