Israel will “engage” with the International Criminal Court probing alleged war crimes, but only to question the tribunal’s right to investigate Palestinian complaints, an official said Thursday.
“We’ve decided to engage with the ICC, the engagement will be limited solely to the question of authority” to deal with Palestine, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Palestinian Authority last month submitted a first dossier of evidence to the ICC, following a decision by the court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to launch a preliminary probe.
The probe, ordered in January, was set up to establish whether there was enough evidence for a full-blown war crimes investigation into last year’s conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
Israel, which has not signed up to the ICC, had rejected Bensouda’s “absurd decision” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the ICC was ignoring “international law and agreements, under which the Palestinians don’t have a state.”
Netanyahu also noted that Israel’s actions were subject to the review of its own legal system.
The Palestinian appeal to the ICC is part of an increased focus on diplomatic manoeuvring following mounting frustration with the lack of progress in creating their own independent state.
A June UN report said both Israel and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during the 2014 Gaza conflict.
Bensouda has warned that both sides in the Gaza war could face war crimes charges.