US says Palestinians not 'eligible' to join ICC

Updated: 2015-01-08 09:28


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WASHINGTON - The United States insisted on Wednesday that the Palestinians are not "eligible" to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), even as the Palestinians' admission is slated for April 1.

"The United States does not believe that the state of Palestine qualifies as a sovereign state and does not recognize it as such, and does not believe that it is eligible to accede to the Rome Statute," State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said at a daily news briefing.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed on joining 20 treaties and agencies on Dec 31, including the Rome Statute under which the ICC was set up, after the UN Security Council rejected a draft resolution on ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has accepted the ICC request and the admission will take effect on April 1, a move that could lead to possible war crime complaints against Israel.

The Palestinians have asked the ICC to investigate war crimes committed by Israel during the 50-day Gaza War in July and August last year, in which nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed, including more than 400 children, according to UN information.

Israel has retaliated by freezing the transfer of half a billion shekels, or about $128 million, in tax revenue it had collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority for the month of December.

Psaki would not discuss the potential impact on US aid to the Palestinians, saying the administration was consulting with Congress.

Republican Senator Rand Paul has introduced a bill banning aid to the Palestinian Authority over its ICC move.