International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor is set to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories. The decision to investigate war crimes has prompted a serious backlash from Israel. Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the investigation could result in charges against both Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinian territories had requested the ICC to intervene hence the chief prosecutor did not need to request approval from judges to start an investigation.
Following Fatou Bensouda's statement on Friday, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice issued a joint proclamation that argued the fact that Palestine is not a sovereign state and hence the Court has no jurisdiction in this case. "The parties agreed that the end of the conflict between them would be reached through direct negotiations. The Palestinians keep avoiding negotiations and consistently and systematically violate their commitments, including by this appeal to the Court.," the statement read.
"The decision of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court not to dismiss the Palestinian case that calls for a criminal investigation of Israelis is unfounded and outrageous. It has turned the ICC into a political weapon waging political war against the Jewish state. The Court has jurisdiction only in cases brought before it by sovereign States. The simple truth is that there is no Palestinian state and there never has been such a state. ," it further added.
Palestine may not be a universally recognised sovereign state but it became a recognised member of the International Criminal Court in January 2015, meaning they can ask the Court to intervene and investigate crimes. Fatou Bensouda accepted the Palestinian request to open an investigation into alleged violation of international law following the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militants.
The international community has never recognised Israel's claim over Palestinian territories. When US President Donald Trump decided to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018, it faced a lot of criticism and the opening of the embassy coincided with the bloodiest day of the 2018 Gaza border protests, with more than 57 Palestinians killed. The US faced criticism from its NATO allies like France who doesn't support Washington's move to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem.