An impressive international coalition of 185 civil society organizations has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a formal investigation, into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, without further delay.

The ICC has been engaged in a preliminary investigation for almost five years without reaching a conclusion. Further delay, resulting in continuing impunity, is unacceptable. This message was delivered to the ICC, in The Hague, on December 10 (Human Rights Day), by representatives of The Rights Forum, the Dutch NGO which initiated the campaign.

Among the signatory organizations are human rights organizations, trade unions, lawyers guilds, solidarity groups, religious institutions and other civil society organizations from 25 different countries. Large numbers of signatory organizations hail from Palestine, Germany, the USA, the Netherlands, Australia and France. The list also includes organizations from Malaysia, India, Japan, Lebanon and Nicaragua.

Only two Israeli organizations endorsed the call. Several organizations from Israel informed the PNN that they support the call but do not want their names published, as they fear a backlash from subsidizing entities and the Israeli political echelon.

Since December 10, another 15 organizations have announced that they are joining the call. Their names have been added to the list of signatories, which now comprises exactly 200 organizations.

The ICC has come under intense pressure to act on Palestine. On November 29, 400 European citizens demonstrated outside the ICC offices, demanding justice and protection for Palestinians. Moreover, in early November, the book “I Accuse!”, written by American author Norman Finkelstein, was published, aimed at Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for her failure to hold Israel responsible for its crimes.

Most recently, on December 9, an explosive article by Emeritus Professor of Law John Dugard provided insight into the possible motives of Bensouda and her staff for their reluctance to act. Dugard holds that Bensouda’s past in The Gambia might be used against her.

The Rights Forum was founded in 2009 by former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt. Its mission is to promote a just and durable outcome of the Israel-Palestine conflict, based on international law and human rights. Its Advisory Board consists of former ministers and professors of international law.

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