ICC Rules Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem Are Under Its Jurisdiction
i24 News – A three-judge panel at the International Criminal Court ruled Friday that West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem are within its jurisdiction.
The judges ruled that the ICC’s territorial jurisdiction in the “Situation in Palestine, a State party to the ICC Rome Statute,” covered the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, alleging that the areas had been “occupied” by Israel since 1967 — a notion that Jerusalem disputes.
The court specified that the ruling was aimed at determining its territorial jurisdiction rather than establishing statehood as such or getting involved in border disputes.
The judges ruled that no matter what Palestine’s status in terms of statehood was, it joined the Rome Statute, the founding charter of the ICC, in the due procedure.
Thus, the chamber said, it was not up to it to contest the outcome of this procedure, which extended the court’s jurisdiction to the Palestinian territories.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Péter Kovács, who presided over the chamber, voiced his disagreement with qualifying the West Bank and Gaza as a state signatory of the Rome Statute.
The ruling was condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that “the ICC proved once again that it is a political body and not a judicial institution.”
“In this decision, the ICC violated the right of democracies to defend themselves against terrorism, and played into the hands of those who undermine efforts to expand the circle of peace,” he said. “We will continue to protect our citizens and soldiers in every way from legal persecution.”
The ruling is seen as de-facto authorizing an ICC investigation into alleged war crimes committed in Palestinian territories, with Public Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda vowing earlier to launch the said probe once the court’s jurisdiction has been established.
The ruling came despite multiple countries, including Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic, came out against the probe, arguing the target areas were not under the ICC jurisdiction.