Malki ups pressure over ‘E1’

Source:Reuters Published: 2013-1-25 0:58:01

The Palestinians declared Wednesday that they will have no choice but to complain about Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the Jewish state proceeds with plans to build housing on land the Palestinians want for a future state.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the UN Security Council on the Middle East, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said his government's decision will largely depend on what the Israelis do with the so-called "E1" area outside the Arab suburbs of East Jerusalem.

"If Israel would like to go further by implementing the E1 (settlement) plan and the other related plans around Jerusalem then yes, we will be going to the ICC," he said. "We have no other choice. It depends on the Israeli decision."

The Palestinians have previously suggested that bringing their various disputes with Israel to the Hague-based court was an option, but Malki's remarks on Wednesday were the most direct threat his government has made against the Jewish state to date.

The International Criminal Court prosecutes charges of genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations. The Palestinians must first apply to join the court, and once a member they could refer Israel for investigation.

The Palestinians became eligible to join the ICC after the UN General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians' status at the world body in November from "observer entity" to "non-member state," a move that was widely seen as a de facto recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

E1 covers some 12 square kilometers and is considered particularly important because it not only juts into the narrow "waist" of the West Bank, but also backs onto East Jerusalem, where Palestinians want to establish their capital.

Approximately 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The UN deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal.

UN Special Coordinator of the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, told the 15-nation Security Council settlements were contrary to international law and "increasingly an obstacle to peace." But he also warned the Palestinians against pursuing international action.

The White House Wednesday renewed its call for a resumption of long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in the wake of Israeli elections in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged as the winner but with a weaker-than-expected showing for his right-wing bloc.

Reuters



Posted in: Mid-East

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