Judges at the International Criminal Court on Friday ruled that the Hague-based court has jurisdiction over alleged war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, which opened the door for a possible investigation.
Judges said their decision was based on rules of jurisdiction in the basic documents and does not imply any attempt to establish state or legal boundaries.
Israel, which is not a member of the court, has rejected its jurisdiction.
The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in 2019 that there was a “reasonable basis” for initiating a war crimes trial against Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip and Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank. But she asked the court to decide if she has territorial jurisdiction before proceeding with the case.
She identified both the Israeli military and armed Palestinian groups as Hamas as possible perpetrators.
In a majority decision published on Friday night, the judges said yes.
“The territorial jurisdiction of the court in the situation in Palestine … extends to the territories that Israel has occupied since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” they said.
The Palestinians, who joined the court in 2015, have long pushed for the case and asked the court to investigate Israeli actions during its 2014 war against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, as well as Israel’s construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem.
The international community generally considers settlements to be illegal under international law.
( Jowharwith AP and REUTERS)