Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted harshly to Palestine’s International Criminal Court (ICC) membership application on Sunday.

During the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu stated that  the Palestinian Authority was attempting to “drag IDF soldiers and commanders to the International Criminal Court”. He added that “Those who need to answer before a criminal court are the heads of the Palestinian Authority, who have forged an alliance with the war criminals of Hamas” and vowed that “[the State of Israel] will not sit idly by”.

Netanyahu’s remarks come two days after the Palestinian Authority filed an application to join the International Criminal Court and announced its intention to charge Israel with war crimes, including for last year’s war in Gaza. The Israeli government already responded to the move by freezing around 500 million sheqalim ($128 mln) worth of tax revenue it collected on behalf of the PA. The move was condemned by former Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who said that Israel’s action would “prevent the payment of salaries to schools and hospitals”.

Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the UN, called the bid a significant step towards “justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power” and announced that charges will be pressed for the Israeli settlement expansion on Palestinian territory as well.

Earlier this week, the United States and Canada also criticised Palestine’s declared intention to apply. Senior Department of State representatives warned of “implications for this step”, while Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called the decision “provocative” and one that “will carry unfortunate consequences”.

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The Hague-based ICC reviews allegations of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide internationally. It has 122 member states and 31 signatory nations that have not ratified the Rome Statute, its main legal framework.

 

(Agencies) Photo: kremlin.ru

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