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January 24, 2013 10:12 am

PA Threatens to Take Israel to International Criminal Court if E1 Building Proceeds

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Members of the Palestinian delegation at the United Nations General Assembly celebrate Nov. 29 upon the vote to upgrade Palestinian status to a non-member observer state Nov. 29. Photo: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki threatened Wednesday that the Palestinians would have “no choice” but to complain to the International Criminal Court if Israel went ahead with construction plans in the contentious E1 zone between Jerusalem and the suburb of Maaleh Adumim.

“If Israel would like to go further by implementing the E1 plan and the other related plans around Jerusalem, then yes, we would be going to the International Criminal Court,” Malki told reporters after a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the Middle East. “We would have no other choice. It depends on the Israeli decision. Israel knows our position very well.”

With the upgraded status granted to them by the UN in November, the PA became eligible to join the ICC. The prospect was and is a major point of concern for Israel, which believes that any move by the Palestinians to involve the ICC in the affairs between the two sides  would further deepen tensions.

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The E1 zone—short for East 1—is a 4.6 square mile area consisting mainly of rocky desert, located just east of Jerusalem. Palestinians say that construction there would prevent them from establishing a capital in East Jerusalem.

According to Israel Hayom, U.N. Special Coordinator of the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry told the 15-nation Security Council that settlement expansion was a violation of international law and “increasingly an obstacle to peace.” But also cautioned the Palestinians against pursuing the ICC option.

The council meeting on the Middle East represented its first public debate on the Israeli-Arab conflict since the Palestinian Authority U.N. status upgrade.

The words “State of Palestine” were also emblazoned on the name plate for the Palestinian delegation, and Malki and a number of council members referred to the “State of Palestine” in their speeches.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told the council that such public references to the “State of Palestine” did not make it a sovereign state.

“Any reference to the ‘State of Palestine’ in the United Nations, including the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’ on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’ in the invitation … do not reflect acquiescence that ‘Palestine’ is a state,” she said, according to Israel Hayom. “Only direct negotiations to settle final status issues will lead to this outcome.”

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