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Palestinian Authority urges quick ICC ruling on settlements

JEDDAH: The Palestinian Authority has urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to speed up rulings on key issues including Israeli settlements, an official has told Arab News.
The authority asked ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to expedite rulings on three Palestinian files in order to open a judicial inquiry into the Israeli government’s violations of international law, said Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
This comes as Israel’s Parliament is expected to vote today on a bill retroactively legalizing about 4,000 settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land, a measure the Israeli attorney-general has said is unconstitutional.
“Upon meeting with the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, we told her that the State of Palestine, which is a member of the ICC, has submitted three files regarding the settlements, the issue of Jerusalem and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails,” Erekat said, adding that this comes in light of last week’s Israeli decision to build more than 3,066 housing units in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The new bill, which is backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, had been expected to pass in Monday’s evening session, but a filibuster threat from the opposition and discussions over its final wording slowed progress.
“The Israeli government has taken these racist decisions in an attempt to confer legitimacy on these illegal settlements. All settlements cannot be legal and amount to war crimes,” Erekat said.
“Therefore, we asked the ICC’s chief prosecutor and the Judicial Council of the International Tribunal to speed up issuing rulings for the Palestinian files in order to open a judicial inquiry into the Israeli government’s violations,” he added.
“This is a very serious matter. The current Israeli government wants to eliminate the two-state solution and entrenches the apartheid. The Israeli PM Netanyahu is allying with extremist right-wing parties in various countries worldwide, deluding them that the Zionist movement has joined them in their wars against terrorism,” Erekat said.
“We, as Arabs and decision makers, must stand firmly against Israeli plans, racism and authoritarianism.
“We have warned and demanded US President Donald Trump not to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, which is the capital of the Palestinian state in accordance with international legitimacy. This move would inflame the conflict in the region. However, Netanyahu’s actions indicate that he has the permission to do whatever he likes.
“In case Trump carried out his promise to move the US embassy, the PLO would recognize Israel as a single state with sovereignty over all of the Palestinian territories. Consequently, the PLO would ask Netanyahu to act as an occupying state and would also plan to ask the UN General Assembly to suspend Israel’s membership in the UN.
“The Palestinians at that moment, with no two-state solution — no possibility for a Palestinian state — they will demand equal rights, equal citizenship with Israel,” he said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Monday that achieving a lasting and just peace based on a two-state solution was at risk.
Addressing the 28th summit of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Abbas said Israel does whatever possible to obstruct the creation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital through its occupation and settlement construction, which is leading to a one-state situation with an apartheid system imposed on the Palestinian people. Abbas said that any change in the status quo in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 may undermine chances of peace and stability in the region.
“We know that you have interests and that Israel is seeking to make relations with the states of your continent,” Abbas told the African leaders. “But we urge you that this should not be done at the expense of the just cause of our Palestinian people, which still needs your help to get rid of the abhorrent Israeli occupation.”