Earlier this month, Palestine officially joined the ICC, after the Hague-based tribunal approved its accession bid.According to the Palestinian News Network (PNN), Hamas said Thursday that it will hand over any Palestinian to the International Criminal Court (ICC) before Israeli leaders are brought to tribunal.

‘Hamas is ready to cooperate with the ICC,’ Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya said during a seminar in Gaza City.

He said Hamas operations to resist the decades-long Israeli occupation are ‘in line with international law.’

‘Hamas will not stop its resistance until all Palestinian territories are liberated,’ he added.

Al-Hayya called for using the ICC as part of what he described as a ‘unified strategy’ to defend the rights of the Palestinian people.

ICC spokesman Fadi al-Abdallah told The Anadolu Agency that Palestine had become the court’s 123rd member state.

According to the spokesman, the Palestinian Authority can now request to have Israeli leaders referred to the court for alleged war crimes committed on Palestinian territory.

Palestinians, too, can be prosecuted by the court, as ICC prosecutors are mandated with identifying suspects.

In January, Palestinians formally delivered the United Nations papers ratifying the Rome Statute – the legal document establishing the court – with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acting as ‘depository.’

The move came after an Arab draft resolution at the UN General Assembly seeking a deadline for ending the Israeli occupation failed to win the nine votes needed to pass, with the U.S. – Israel’s longstanding, veto-wielding ally – voting against it.

Hours later, PA President Mahmoud Abbas had applied for Palestinian membership in 18 international treaties, including the Rome Statute.

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