President Mahmoud Abbas signed letters to join nearly 20 international treaties — including the Rome Statute that guarantees accession to the International Criminal Court — Wednesday night, only a day after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution supporting an end to the Israeli occupation.
“We want to complain about the harm caused to us and to our land,” Abbas said in a statement aired on state TV before he signed the agreements, according to Palestinian official news agency Wafa.
“But who shall we complain to? The Security Council refused our request. Where will we go? To the international organizations,” he added.
The ICC can prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, and Palestinian plans to become a party to the court have been strongly opposed by Israel and the United States.
The move would allow Palestine to prosecute Israel for crimes committed during the summer offensive that left around 2,200 Palestinians dead and 110,000 homeless in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas argued that the Palestinians demand a just resolution the conflict, and given the UN’s failure to act they were forced to seek help through international legal treaties.
“We do not want anything more, but we will not settle for less,” he said. “Tonight we sign 20 different international treaties, even though we have the right to join any international institutions.”
The move outraged Israeli officials, who have long condemned any move by the Palestinians to seek international recognition or join international legal mechanisms that could allow them to prosecute Israel for its action.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by warning the Palestinians that it was not Israel but Hamas who should be worried about prosecution at the ICC.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the signing of the treaties “was a historic moment for our people and for all those around the world who seek justice and peace.”
“Palestine has, and will continue to use, all legitimate tools within its means, in order to defend itself against Israeli colonization and other violations of international law,” he added.
“We trust that the international community will stand by us, as we seek to exercise the long overdue rights of our State and of our people.”
The move came after Tuesday’s vote at the Security Council, which would have set a timeframe for ending the Israeli occupation.
Israel hailed the rejection as a victory, saying it dealt a blow to Palestinian efforts to diplomatically “embarrass and isolate” Israel.
The Palestinians denounced as “outrageously shameful” the failure of the text to win the necessary nine votes for passage.
The resolution would have set a 12-month deadline for Israel to reach a final peace deal with the Palestinians and called for a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Palestinian territories by the end of 2017.
List of treaties signed Wednesday by Abbas:
1. Convention on the Political Rights of Women
2. Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the ‘New York Convention’)
3. Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
4. Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity
5. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II)
6. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Protocol III)
7. Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses
8. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents
9. United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
10. Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel
11. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
12. Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity
13. Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court
14. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
15. Declaration in accordance with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
16. The Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons
17. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
18. Convention on Cluster Munitions
(Ma’an and agencies – www.maannews.net)