International Criminal Court Rules Prosecutor Can Investigate Israel for Alleged War Crimes in Palestinian Territories

International Criminal Court is seen in The Hague, Netherlands September 27, 2018 (photo credit: REUTERS/EVA PLEVIER)

The United States has “serious concerns” about an International Criminal Court ruling which paves the way for a prosecutor to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories, a State Department spokesman said late Friday.

“We do not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state, and therefore are not qualified to obtain membership as a state or participate as a state in international organizations, entities, or conferences including the ICC,” Ned Price said in a statement.

“We have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel,” he added.

In a 60-page ruling published on Friday, the court said its jurisdiction extended to territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, appearing to pave the way for its chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open an investigation into Israel’s military actions in Gaza, as well as Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.

Bensouda said in 2019 there was a “reasonable basis” to open a war crimes probe, but she asked the court to determine whether she had territorial justification before proceeding with the case. She named both the Israel Defense Forces and armed Palestinian groups, such as Hamas, as possible perpetrators.

In a majority ruling published Friday night, the judges said yes.

The Palestinians joined the court in 2015. They asked it to look into Israeli actions during a 2014 war in the Gaza Strip. As well as Israel’s construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem — the international community widely considers the settlements to be illegal under international law.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Henry Austin and Adela Suliman