Palestinian authorities have formally recognized the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction to investigate crimes allegedly committed during last summer's Gaza war, the court confirmed on Monday.
"On 1 January 2015, the Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Herman von Hebel, received a document... by the Palestinian government declaring Palestine's acceptance of the jurisdiction of the ICC since 13 June 2014," the ICC said in a statement.
Earlier, a Ramallah-based rights group said the 50-day Gaza war will be part of the first case the Palestinians plan on referring to the court.
However, acceptance of the ICC's jurisdiction differs from accession to the Rome Statute, the Court's founding treaty. The U.N. is still reviewing documents submitted by the Palestinians to join the Court.
"Acceptance of the ICC's jurisdiction does not automatically trigger an investigation," the court added.
The ICC can prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since July 1, 2002, when the Rome Statute came into force.
The ICC only has jurisdiction from that date onwards, but those joining after that time may nonetheless separately accept the authority of the court for the period before the statute entered into force for them.
To date, 122 countries have ratified the Rome Statute, with the notable exceptions of the United States and Israel.
June 13 of last year was the date Israel began a massive crackdown in the West Bank after the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers, triggering a series of events which led to the seven-week Gaza war that killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 people in Israel.
Following the teens’ kidnap on June 12, Israel began its biggest sweep of the occupied territories in years, arresting more than 2,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
On June 30, troops found the bodies of the three, unleashing a wave of national grief and anger that saw Jewish extremists murder an east Jerusalem teenager in revenge, which itself triggered furious protests in the eastern Arab sector of Occupied Jerusalem.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat confirmed on Monday that Gaza would be one of the cases referred to the court, but also said there would be a file put together on Israeli settlement building on land seized during the 1967 Six-Day War.
On January 2, the Palestinians presented a formal request to join the Hague-based court in a move which opens the way for them to file suit against Israeli officials for alleged war crimes in the occupied territories.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas signed requests to join the ICC and 16 other conventions after the Security Council failed to adopt a resolution paving the way to full statehood.
The U.S. has branded the ICC move as "counterproductive."