ICC's Israel war crimes probe halted pending UN decision

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The International Criminal Court prosecutor said Tuesday he would hold off on a preliminary probe into alleged Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories until the UN rules on Palestinian statehood.

"The office (of the prosecutor) has assessed that it is for the relevant bodies at the UN or the Assembly of State Parties to make a legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a state for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute", the court's founding treaty, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The Palestinian Authority in January 2009 accepted the Hague-based court's jurisdiction, asking ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to launch a war crimes investigation against Israel following the Gaza war in December 2008 - January 2009.

It wanted Moreno-Ocampo to look into "acts committed on the territory of Palestine" going as far back as July 2002.

Moreno-Ocampo's office then opened a preliminary probe to see if there were grounds to proceed with an investigation.

Tuesday's statement said the court's reach was not based on a principle of universal jurisdiction and it could open investigations only if asked to do so by either the UN Security Council or by a recognised state.

Palestine does not have full UN membership.

© 2012 AFP

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