Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

December 4, 2012

Palestinian war crimes case faces long road

(Continued)

BLUEFIELD —

The U.N. resolution last week recognized a Palestinian state in all three territories, captured by Israel in the 1967 war. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but continues to control access in and out of the area.

The U.N. resolution appeared to repudiate the Israeli position that the West Bank and east Jerusalem are "disputed" territories and effectively condemned Israeli settlements in the areas, which are now home to some 500,000 Israelis. Settlements are at the heart of the current four-year deadlock in peace efforts, with the Palestinians refusing to negotiate while Israel continues to build more settler homes.

The ICC's founding charter describes "the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies" as a war crime.

The Palestinian position on settlements has widespread international support. The international community, even Israel's closest ally, the U.S., has broadly condemned the latest planned settlement construction.

"Under our very clear understanding of international law, the settlements are illegal and have always been illegal, and that will remain so," Andrew Standley, the European Union's ambassador to Israel, told reporters Tuesday.

Even so, turning this international opposition into legal action against Israel will be no small task. The Palestinians would face a number of legal and political obstacles in pressing forward.

For starters, it remains unclear whether the Palestinians qualify for membership in the court, because it is open only to states.

Last April, the court's chief prosecutor at the time, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, turned down a request by the Palestinians to join the court. But he subsequently said in an AP interview that they would qualify for membership if they gained nonmember state status at the U.N.

So far, the court has said only that it "takes note" of last week's U.N. decision and will consider its "legal implications." Moreno-Ocampo is no longer at the court.

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