Middle East

France warns Palestinians against taking Israel to ICC

PLO executive committe member Hanan Ashrawi smiles during a press conference in the United Nations, on November 28, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI

PARIS: France warned the Palestinians against taking Israel to the International Criminal Court should they win upgraded UN status this week, saying it would it damage peace efforts.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius acknowledged it would be within the Palestinians' rights to join the ICC and pursue Israel should they win recognition as a non-member state at the United Nations.

But such a move would be counter-productive, he added.

"Speaking purely of the law, from the moment there is a recognition of a state, even as a non-member and observer, it would have the possibility of referring such-and-such a state to the court," Fabius told France Inter radio.

"However if we want to move toward negotiations and find a solution, it is obvious that elements should not be used" that would put that at risk, he said.

Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said Wednesday the Palestinians were facing "intensive pressure" not to sue Israel for war crimes at the ICC, a day before Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was to present the upgraded request to the UN General Assembly in New York.

Security Council member France said on Tuesday it was backing the Palestinian bid.

If the request is approved by the 193 member states of the General Assembly -- which is largely seen as a foregone conclusion -- it will give the Palestinians access to a range of UN agencies and also potentially to the ICC, which is based in The Hague.

As an observer state at the UN, the Palestinians could sign the Rome statute which set up the ICC, but it would need to be accepted by the court's signatories.





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