The International Criminal Court confirms its jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories

Judges of the International Criminal Court issued a ruling Friday, stating that the court, based in The Hague, has jurisdiction over alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories, opening the way for a possible investigation.

The judges said that the decision was based on the jurisdictional rules stipulated in the court's founding documents, and does not include any attempt to determine state status or legal boundaries.

A statement issued by the court stated that it “decided, by majority, that the jurisdiction of the regional judicial court regarding the situation in Palestine, the member state of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, extends to the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967”.

Israel has denied the court's jurisdiction and is not a member of the court.

Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in December 2019 that there is "a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip."

It described the Israeli army and Palestinian armed groups such as Hamas as potential perpetrators.

It asked the judges to decide whether the situation fell within the court's jurisdiction before opening a formal investigation.

The judges responded in a ruling published on Friday that the situation falls within the jurisdiction of the judicial court.

And they said, "The court's jurisdiction in the situation in Palestine extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem."

For its part, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the ICC decision regarding jurisdiction is a historic day for the principle of accountability.

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