World Bulletin/News Desk
The Palestinian Authority (PA) would be "playing with fire" if it decides to pursue full membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israeli political sources told Israel's daily Yediot Ahronot.
The politicians' remarks, quoted anonymously, came following the 122-member ICC, based in The Hague, upgraded on Tuesday Palestine from an "observer entity" to an "observer state."
The move advances Palestine's position towards a full membership at the court, which would allow the Palestinian Authority to sue Israel for war crimes and other violations committed in the occupied territories.
"If the Palestinians continue the process of becoming a full member, they're playing with fire," one source told Yediot Ahronot. "Then they will be vulnerable to suits by Israel for the PA's involvement in terror attacks and its responsibility for rockets launched from its territory."
The PA has yet to file for full membership before the court. However, it has threatened to ratify the ICC's founding Rome Statute in the event that the UN's Security Council votes down a draft resolution – to be submitted by the PA – giving Israel a 2-year deadline to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian Territories.
The source described the ICC's upgrade, as a "procedural, technical change." However, Riyad Mansour, the permanent Palestine observer at the UN, described the move as "another victory for the Palestinians on the international arena."
Mansour told reporters in New York that the ICC's upgrade "brings Palestinians closer to reclaim their rights by paving the way for the Israeli occupation leaders to be brought to [trial] so that all Palestinian victims' souls could finally rest in peace."
The ICC looks into accusations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed on the territories of its member states.
The court is also mandated to handle cases submitted by the UN Security Council.
Several Palestinian factions have urged PA President Mahmoud Abbas to file for full ICC membership in order to bring Israel to the international court following a devastating Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip this summer.
The offensive, launched with the stated aim of ending rocket fire form the blockaded coastal enclave, left more than 2,160 Palestinians – mostly civilians – dead and some 11,000 injured as well as thousands of homes destroyed.
At least 73 Israelis – 68 soldiers and five civilians – were also killed during the offensive, which finally ended on August 26 with a cease-fire deal reached in Cairo after 51 days of bombardments.
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