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Palestinians eye U.N. deadline to end Israeli occupation

File - Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, shakes hands with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, right, as the then Emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, looks on after signing an agreement in Doha, Qatar.(AP Photo/Osama Faisal)

RAMALLAH, Palestine: The Palestinian leadership is to demand the international community set a deadline for Israel to end its occupation of the territories, a senior official told AFP Monday.

The Palestinian leadership is preparing “to go to the U.N. Security Council to enforce an end to the [Israeli] occupation,” senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Wasel Abu Yousef told AFP.

Labor Minister Ahmad al-Majdalani also said the leadership was “working toward ... holding an international conference to set a timetable for an end to the occupation,” he told AFP Sunday.

Neither official gave any details on when the Palestinian demand would be presented.

Such a move would likely be vetoed by the United States, which traditionally opposes any step perceived as anti-Israeli at the Security Council.

But in the event of a likely U.S. veto, the Palestinians would consider fast-tracking an application to become party to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Abu Yousef said.

“If the U.S. uses a veto, then we still have the ICC card,” he told AFP.

Since obtaining the U.N. status of a non-member observer state in November 2012, the Palestinians have repeatedly threatened to join the ICC, where they could pursue Israeli officials over actions in the occupied territories.

Based in The Hague, the ICC can prosecute those guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed since July 1, 2002, when its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, came into force.

So far, the Rome Statute has been ratified by 121 countries, but not Israel, the United States, China or Russia.

Only individuals, not states, can be prosecuted before the ICC.

A state party may refer crimes within the court’s jurisdiction to the prosecutor for investigation. Cases may also be referred by the U.N. Security Council, or the prosecutor can initiate his own investigations with permission from the judges.

Joining the ICC would also expose Palestinian factions including Hamas to possible prosecution.

Hamas, the main power in Gaza, said Saturday it had signed a document calling on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to apply for ICC membership.

So far, Abbas has not yet made the application.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 26, 2014, on page 9.

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