U.N. chief Ban sets April 1 for Palestinian membership in ICC


(JTA) — Palestine will join the International Criminal Court on April 1, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

Ban made the announcement late Tuesday night, days after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute, the international treaty under which the signatories accept the jurisdiction of the international war crimes tribunal. The accession to the court will allow the Palestinians to press war crimes charges against Israel.

The U.N. chief also approved the Palestinians’ membership in 16 other international treaties, conventions and agreements.

The Palestinians have filed an ad hoc declaration for the ICC to investigate Israel for war crimes as of June 13 — a date that is one day after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens by Palestinians from Hebron. The massive search for the teens and Israel’s 50-day military operation in Gaza over the summer would be covered under the retroactive date.

The declaration would start proceedings against Israel even as the Palestinians wait for the April 1 accession date, becoming the court’s 123rd member state. Israel is not a member of the court.

An ICC investigation could also lead to war crimes charges against the Palestinians.

The Palestinians’ move to join the ICC and other international treaties came after the United Nations Security Council late last month failed to pass a Palestinian statehood proposal.

In response, Israel froze some $125 million in tax revenue that it collects for the Palestinian Authority.

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