U.N. okays Palestine joining ICC, U.S. objects

Joining ICC would allow the court to prove war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed Wednesday that the Palestinians would officially become a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1, in a move the United States voiced objection to.

The official announcement of the date of the Palestinian accession to the ICC, in the form of a letter from Ban, was posted on a U.N. website, Reuters news agency reported.

The United Nations is the official depositary of the Rome Statute and many other treaties.

Under ICC rules, Palestinian membership would allow the court, based in The Hague, to exercise jurisdiction over war crimes committed by anyone on Palestinian territory, without a referral from the U.N. Security Council.

Israel, like the United States, is not a party to the Rome statute, but its citizens could be tried for actions taken on Palestinian land.

The Palestinian government signed the Rome Statute on Dec. 31, a day after a bid for independence by 2017 failed at the U.N. Security Council.

The United States said Palestinians are not eligible to join the International Criminal Court.

“The United States does not believe that the state of Palestine qualifies as a sovereign state and does not recognize it as such and does not believe that it is eligible to accede to the Rome statute” under which the ICC was set up, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The Palestinians, who have been locked in a bloody conflict with Israel for decades, seek a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem - lands Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War.

Momentum to recognize a Palestinian state has built since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas succeeded in a bid for de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood at the U.N. General Assembly in 2012, which made Palestinians eligible to join the ICC.

(With Agencies)

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