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Israel Refuses to Cooperate with UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza

Israel Refuses to Cooperate with UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza

"Today, as a State party to the Rome Statute, the State of Palestine will submit a referral regarding Israel's deliberate war crimes to Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda".

The latter has also routinely been threatened by the United States and Israel not to make any moves in the ICC.

Israel said it took a "severe view" of the Palestinian request and called on the ICC to reject the "cynical step".

Malki called the request an important "test" of accountability for the ICC.

"It is vital for the ICC to assume a principled and just stand and open an official, speedy and criminal investigation into Israel's egregious violations being committed throughout occupied Palestine".

According to a Palestinian statement, the so-called "referral" that Riad Malki handed to the court's prosecutors outlines "compelling evidence of the ongoing commission of grave crimes to warrant an immediate investigation".

There was no comment from Israel on the Palestinian move.

The step was sure to worsen the already troubled relations between the internationally backed Palestinian Authority and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

Maliki said the Palestinian move was "due to the intensification of the rate and the severity of the crimes against our people", including the targeting of "unarmed protestors in the Gaza Strip".

The ICC has been conducting a preliminary probe since 2015 into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories, including Israel's settlement policy and crimes allegedly committed by both sides in the 2014 Gaza conflict. Israel, if it wanted any charges filed against Palestinians, would have to become a member of the court.

If the ICC were to show intellectual honesty in this case, it could end up ruling that the Israeli settlements are not a violation of the convention and therefore not at all a war crime.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements that are illegal under the worldwide law, which prohibits construction on occupied land.

Israel claims east Jerusalem as an inseparable part of its capital - though its annexation is not worldwide recognised. Most notably, this referral will cover "crimes associated with the Israeli colonial settlement regime in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem".

Israel annexed east Jerusalem after capturing it in 1967 and considers it an inseparable part of its capital.

Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to Palestinian negotiators, told Al Jazeera that while "this has been an option for the PA for quite some time, the significance now is that there is enough pressure on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to do something".

It notes that in the case of Gaza, for instance, it uprooted all settlements there when it withdrew in 2005. "The use of lethal and other excessive force is a serious violation of global law, yet our efforts to challenge the policy from within Israel have been met with support for the status quo".

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