Palestinian ICC Bid Requires ‘Forceful Response’

© REUTERS / Akintunde AkinleyeU.S Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S Secretary of State John Kerry - Sputnik International
Leaders of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee commented on the Palestinian Authority’s decision to join the International Criminal Court, saying that this action requires an immediate and forceful response from the United States.

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WASHINGTON, January 28 (Sputnik) — The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) decision to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) will undermine prospects for peace with Israel and should be met by cutting off economic assistance to the Palestinians, leaders of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a joint letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday.

“We believe the actions that the PA has taken, require an immediate and forceful response from the United States that is commensurate with the gravity of its decision,” the 13 Democratic and Republican members of the influential committee told Kerry.

As the State Department considers its response to the Palestinian move against the US closest ally in the region, House Foreign Affairs Committee members in the letter to Kerry urged the US to cut off economic assistance to the Palestinian authority.

“The United States should not support direct economic assistance to the PA until it demonstrates a meaningful reversal of this destructive course and proves it can be a willing partner for peace,” the House members said.

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Palestine signed onto the ICC on New Years and is expected to join as a member on April 31, 2015, but the jurisdiction of the international court that rules on war crimes would be valid only for the period after June 2014.

That time frame includes Israel’s offensive in Gaza over the summer, in which Human Rights Watch accused Israel of war crimes for attacks on civilians. On January 16, ICC prosecutors opened a “preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine.”

The members said ICC membership would have implications on the US relations with the Palestinians and risk “irreparable harm to not only the prospects for peace, but the long-term viability of the PA itself.”

The PA is largely dependent on Israel and the international community for funding. In early January, Israel announced it would withhold more than $100 million a month in tax revenues collected on behalf the PA in response to their ICC bid. According to the US Congressional Research Service, US assistance to the PA has averaged $400 million per year since 2008.

The Hague-based ICC has 122 member states that are part of the international tribunal that tries war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The United States and Israel are not members of the ICC.

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