World Bulletin / News Desk
The Palestinian leadership plans to resort to to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if Israel continues to "punish" the Palestinian people and violate the rights of Palestinian detainees, a Palestinian government minister said Monday.
"Joining 15 international agreements and organizations is an important step for Palestine," Palestinian Minister for Detainees' Affairs Issa Qaraqe said.
"This step will provide protection to [Palestinian] detainees in Israeli jails against oppression and torture," Qaraqe declared at a conference held to mark Palestinian Prisoners' Day.
Prospects for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians appeared to crumble late last month after Israel refused to release 26 Palestinian prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so.
In retaliation, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formally applied for Palestinian membership in 15 U.N. agencies and conventions.
The latest developments come only two weeks before an April 29 negotiation deadline for U.S.-sponsored peace talks.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Palestinian Authority had already become a party to and a member of seven international agreements and conventions.
Qaraqe said that 90 percent of Palestinian prisoners currently held in Israeli jails were regularly subjected to physical and psychological torture.
"Seventy-three prisoners died inside Israeli jails since 1967, including 53 who died due to medical negligence and 20 who were killed," Qaraqe said.
"Since 1967, no Israeli soldier or interrogator has ever been punished for crimes committed against [Palestinian] prisoners," the minister added.
He went on to assert that the Palestinian leadership now planned to bring "Israeli war criminals" to international courts, noting that Israel had urged the Palestinians to suspend their membership in recently-joined international treaties.
He called on the Palestinian leadership to lodge an "immediate" appeal with the ICC.
"The ICC will be the next destination if Israel continues to punish the Palestinian leadership and people and violate the rights of prisoners," Qaraqe said.
He added that the Palestinian leadership would prepare the necessary files and documents with a view to bringing Israel before the international courts.
Nearly 5000 Palestinian detainees, including a number of women and children, are currently languishing in Israeli prisons, according the Prisoners' Affairs Ministry.Last Mod: 14 Nisan 2014, 17:02