6 February 2021
The Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled that the ICC has jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed in the territory of Palestine. The majority ruling paves the way for an investigation into crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory since 13 June 2014.*
The Court ruled that Palestine is a State Party to the Rome Statute and confirmed the Court’s territorial jurisdiction extends to Gaza, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, territories occupied by Israel since 1967. An investigation could lead to indictments against members of the Israel Defense Forces, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, and members of the Israeli authorities.
Australia was among a small number of States Parties who intervened in an effort to stop an investigation from proceeding, arguing that Palestine was not a State and therefore not a State Party to the Rome Statute. Australia and Palestine were both elected as members of the 18 member States that make up the ICC’s Bureau of the Assembly of States Parties. Australia never objected to Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute.
Director of the Australian Centre for International Justice, Ms Rawan Arraf said:
“This is a major breakthrough and a huge advance for those all around the world fighting to end impunity for serious international crimes.”
“Australia’s position has been rejected by the majority of the Court. It is Australia who played politics and lost. We hope Australia will now support the right of all victims to access justice equally, and end selective support for justice and accountability.”
“Today’s decision is the result of decades long struggle led by Palestinian human rights defenders, victims’ communities and civil society organisations, against a backdrop of daily violence and an aggressive amount of political pressure and lobbying, in attempts to bury an investigation and grant impunity to perpetrators of atrocity crimes.”
“Once again, an international court has affirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The Court has recognised that serious harms the Palestinians have endured and continue to endure, cannot be ignored.”
Link to the decision: https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/record.aspx?docNo=ICC-01/18-143
For media enquiries contact Rawan Arraf on +61(0)450 708 870.
- On 20 December 2019, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), concluded a long running 5-year preliminary examination into the ‘Situation in Palestine’.
- On conclusion, the ICC Prosecutor found that there is a reasonable basis to start an formal investigation into the Situation in Palestine.
- The Prosecutor found there are reasonable grounds to believe that war crimes have been, or are being, committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip by members of the Israel Defense Forces, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, and members of the Israeli authorities.
- Prior to initiating an investigation, the ICC Prosecutor requested the Pre-Trial Chamber rule on the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction.
- The Prosecutor is seeking judicial confirmation that the territory, over which the ICC may exercise its jurisdiction, comprises the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), that is the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
- Australia is one of only seven States Parties who filed requests to intervene and provide observations, including: Germany, Hungary, Austria, Brazil, Uganda and the Czech Republic.
- There are 123 countries which are States Parties of the Rome Statute of the ICC.
- *On 2 January 2015, Palestine became a State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC under article 12(1), accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC since 13 June 2014.
- On 29 November 2012, the UN General Assembly upgraded Palestine’s observer status in the General Assembly to that of a non-member state, affirming its status as a State.
Image credit: Reuters
*Release updated 8 February 2021.