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ICC to Probe Alleged War Crimes in Palestinian Areas.

ICC to Probe Alleged War Crimes in Palestinian Areas.

The Prosecutor's representative at the International Criminal Court has announced that she wants to open a comprehensive investigation into  alleged war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda said that the war crimes had been or are being committed  in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, and she asked the International Court for a ruling regarding the lands under its jurisdiction.

She said she had filed a request with judges for a jurisdictional ruling because of the contested legal status of the Palestinian territories.

For its part, Israel considered that this step "is not based on any basis."

“Palestine welcomes this step as a long-overdue step to move the process forward towards an investigation, after nearly five long and difficult years of preliminary examination,” the Palestinian Authority said in a statement.

Netanyahu said the ICC had no jurisdiction in the case.

“The ICC only has jurisdiction over petitions submitted by sovereign states. But there has never been a Palestinian state,” he said in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement the United States did not believe Palestinians qualified as a sovereign state and added: “We firmly oppose this and any other action that seeks to target Israel unfairly.”

The ICC has the authority to hear cases of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the 123 countries that have signed up to it. Israel has not joined the court but the Palestinian Authority has done so.

The ICC prosecutors said in December that a preliminary investigation on the West Bank had focused on “reported settlement-related activities engaged in by Israeli authorities”.

“Specifically, I have sought confirmation that the ‘territory’ over which the court may exercise its jurisdiction, and which I may subject to investigation, comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza,” Bensouda said.

Determining where she can investigate should be resolved before she starts an investigation “and not settled only later by judges after my investigations are completed,” she said.

The prosecutor’s case will focus on issues like Israel’s building of settlements in the West Bank and its military operations in Gaza.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo entered the debate to declare his country’s opposition to the investigation. He considered the investigation as unfairly targeting Israel.

“We firmly oppose this and any other action that seeks to target Israel unfairly,” Pompeo said in a statement.

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