Abbas to meet war crimes prosecutor as unrest flares

30th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will meet Friday with the prosecutor of the world's only permanent war crimes court, Palestinian officials said amid a surge of fresh violence with Israel.

It will be Abbas's first meeting with the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court since the Palestinian Authority sparked controversy by joining the tribunal in January, an official with the Palestinian mission in The Hague told AFP.

The visit comes as Israel and the Palestinians grapple with another wave of deadly violence amid fears that almost daily clashes and knife attacks could herald a third Palestinian uprising, or intifada.

Abbas, who is in the Netherlands as part of a European tour, would visit ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda "in the context of the grave Israeli escalation in occupied Palestine," the official said, asking not to be identified.

There was no immediate confirmation from the ICC that Bensouda was meeting with Abbas.

To Israel's fury, the Palestinians have formally asked the ICC to investigate the Jewish state for alleged war crimes during the 2014 Gaza war in which 2,200 Palestinians were killed.

Bensouda has officially opened a preliminary inquiry into the Palestinian allegations to see whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to a more formal investigation.

To support its case, Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki handed over two files to the ICC in June as evidence of its allegations.

One file dealt with alleged Israeli crimes committed in Gaza during the 50-day war in July and August last year.

The other file delved into Israel's occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including "information about the issue of Palestinian prisoners," the Palestinian mission in The Hague said in June.

Abbas has also since called on Bensouda to probe the August firebombing of a Palestinian home blamed on Jewish extremists, in which a toddler and his father died.

"Achieving justice is essential for the Palestinian victims, dead and alive," said Malki in June.

"Palestine has chosen to seek justice not vengeance, this is why we are here today."

Malki was to accompany Abbas for Friday's talks, and would address the press afterwards, the Palestinian official told AFP, refusing to be drawn further on the purpose of the visit.

Israel, which has not signed up to the ICC, has vehemently opposed the Palestinian attempt to trigger a full investigation for war crimes.

The move also angered Israel's ally the United States which denounced it as "counterproductive".

The ICC was set up in 2002 to investigate and try those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, where national authorities cannot or will not prosecute.


© 2015 AFP

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