The Palestinian Authority Becomes the 123rd Member of the ICC

By Ena Cefo

On April 1st, 2015, Palestine became the newest member of the International Criminal Court (ICC)—allowing the ICC to examine serious crimes committed on or from the Palestinian territory. With the request of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to apply the court’s jurisdiction retroactively to June 13, 2014, the 2014 Gaza conflict will also fall under the court’s jurisdiction. Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary examination into the Palestinian situation, which will look into any “serious crimes” of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes—including an occupying power’s transfer of its own civilians into occupied territory. While the United States has announced its disapproval of Palestine joining the ICC and threatened aid cuts, Balkees Jarrah of Human Rights Watch remarked: “Governments seeking to penalize Palestine for joining the ICC should immediately end their pressure ... [w]hat’s objectionable is the attempts to undermine international justice, not Palestine’s decision to join a treaty to which over 100 countries around the world are members.”