ICC Prosecutor announces reasonable basis to investigate war crimes - jurisdiction to be determined by the Court
[21 December 2019] – On 20 December the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that the Prosecutor is satisfied that there is a basis to initiate an investigation into the situation in Palestine and has referred the question of territorial jurisdiction to the Court.
The Office stated that “[T]here 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, and the Prosecution has identified potential cases arising from the situation which would be admissible. There are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.”
Notwithstanding the Prosecutor’s view that the Court does have jurisdiction, due to the “unique history and circumstances of the Occupied Palestinian Territory” the question of jurisdiction will be referred to the Court “in order to seek judicial resolution of this matter at the earliest opportunity – and thus to facilitate the practical conduct of her investigation by placing it on the soundest legal foundation.”
By referring the question of jurisdiction to the Court, the Prosecutor seeks confirmation that the “territory” over which the Court may exercise jurisdiction comprises the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza (“Occupied Palestinian Territory”).
Potential crimes for investigation will include Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of Article 8 2(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute
; the forcible transfer
of Palestinian detainees, including children, from the West Bank to prisons in Israel in violation of Article 8 2(a)(vii); the situation in Gaza; and potential criminal conduct by Palestinian actors.