ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

On 30 April 2020, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) submitted a 60-page document to the Pre-Trial Chamber I responding to the observations of amici curiae, legal representatives of victims, and States concerning the situation in the State of Palestine.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) welcomes the Prosecutor’s re-affirmation of her position that there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation into the situation in Palestine and that the Court has territorial jurisdiction over East Jerusalem, as well as the rest of the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

PCHR reiterates it support for the work of the Prosecutor as it moves towards opening an investigation, pending a ruling from the Pre-Trial Chamber I on the Court’s territorial jurisdiction, and contends that it is important that such steps are taken soon with the aim of realizing Court’s goal, which is bringing perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice.

PCHR along with other Palestinian human rights organizations have engaged extensively with the ICC, and in particular the Office of the Prosecutor, in bringing about an investigation. To date the Palestinian organisations have submitted seven substantial communications along with thousands of files of photographic and other evidence recorded through Eyewitness.

The latest was a review paper submitted on 29 April 2020 entitled “Response to Arguments Raised in Amici Curiae Submissions in the Situation in the State of Palestine Before the International Criminal Court” to provide additional guidance on the territorial jurisdiction of the Court and move the situation in Palestine towards a criminal investigations.

The recent worrying development indicate that the Court must move as quickly as possible to put an end for Israel’s lack of accountability.

On 6 April 2020, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Chairman of Kahol Lavan party, Benny Gantz, published a joint statement concerning the formation of an emergency coalition government, promising potential annexation of substantial parts of the West Bank, which Israel will use to facilitate the theft of Palestinian land.

As the ICC constitutes the last hope for accountability for Palestinian victims, it is crucial that it takes steps to put an end to Israel’s impunity.

PCHR is well aware that the ICC Prosecutor is working under extreme pressure due to recent attacks and threats by the United States and Israel, and praises the Court for taking a position that reflects the view of Palestinian human rights organizations, and the victims they represent, despite the difficult circumstances they operate under.

Therefore, PCHR calls on the international community, including the State Parties to the Rome Statute, to support the Prosecutor’s efforts in pursuing justice and accountability for Palestinian victims.

In particular, PCHR calls upon states who presented amici curiae arguing against the Court’s territorial jurisdiction to adopt the arguments and analysis presented in the Prosecutor’s submission.