Palestinian Authority official becomes member of International Criminal Court

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The Palestinian Authority official became a member of the Geneva-based International Criminal Court.

A ceremony was held at the court on Wednesday to mark the PA’s ascension to the court.

P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas signed the requests to join the ICC and other international conventions at the end of December, after the United Nations Security Council failed to pass a Palestinian statehood proposal. Israel, retaliated by withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in tax payments it had collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Last week Israel announced that it would send the tax payments to the P.A.

In January, prosecutors at the ICC opened a preliminary inquiry into possible war crimes in Gaza and the West Bank, The move is the first formal step that could lead to charges against Palestinian or Israeli officials. The prosecutors will determine whether preliminary findings merit a full investigation into alleged atrocities which could result in charges against individuals on either the Israeli or Palestinian side.

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P.A. Foreign Minister Riad Malki, who met with ICC  officials on Wednesday, in what was characterized as ceremonial talks, cautioned in an interview on Palestinian radio that “ICC procedures are slow and long and might face lots of obstacles and challenges and might take years.”