The International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened up a preliminary inquiry into possible Israeli “war crimes” in the disputed territories following a request by the Palestinians.
According to the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the preliminary examination is not an investigation, but rather “a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation pursuant to the criteria established by the Rome Statute.”
Earlier this month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute in order to join the ICC after failing to get a U.N. Security Council resolution passed that called for Israel’s withdrawal from the disputed territories by 2017.
By joining the ICC, the Palestinians may also open themselves up to war crimes investigations and prosecutions, such as for rocket fire from Gaza.
In a statement released hours after the ICC announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the international tribunal for its decision.
“It is absolutely scandalous that just days after terrorists butchered Jews in France, the general prosecutors is beginning an inquiry against the state of the Jews, and this only because we defend our citizens from Hamas, a terrorist organization that is allied with the Palestinian Authority,” Netanyahu said.
“Hamas war criminals fired thousands of rockets at Israeli citizens,” he added. “Unfortunately, [this probe] renders [the ICC] part of the problem, and not part of the solution.”