JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Palestinians’ chief peace negotiator filed a claim on behalf of the Palestinian leadership with the International Criminal Court in The Hague over Israel’s plans to raze a West Bank Bedouin village.
The claim filed Tuesday called the decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, located outside of Jerusalem near Maale Adumim, as early as this week a “war crime.”
“We call on the International Criminal Court to expedite the opening of the investigation into Israel’s crimes,” Saeb Erekat told reporters in Ramallah on Tuesday.
The Trump administration linked the U.S. closure of the PLO office in Washington, D.C., to “Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court.”
Erekat, the secretary-general of the PLO Executive Committee, said that the claim about Khan al-Ahmar is not a new petition, but an addition to the case against Israeli settlements in the West Bank that was filed in May with the ICC on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, according to Haaretz.
The petition “included a focus on the war crimes facing Khan al-Ahmar, specifically the crimes of forcible displacement, ethnic cleansing and the destruction of civilian property,” Erekat told reporters.
Israel’s Supreme Court last week rejected a petition by village residents to halt the demolition. An injunction against the demolition expired on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court had authorized the demolition in May, since the homes were built without permits. The July injunction called on the state to review a compromise offer drawn up by the locals that would legalize the village.
Critics of the demolition believe that Israel is tearing down the village in order to make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. The international community and human rights organizations have rallied in support of the village.
On Monday, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton called the International Criminal Court an “illegitimate court” in a speech to the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C.
“If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly,” he said.
Bolton called the ICC “ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed, outright dangerous,” and said that the court “is already dead to us.”