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Israel threatens sanctions on Palestinians over ICC probe: reports

Possible Israeli sanctions on the Palestinians will affect economic programmes [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 March, 2021

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Israel is considering possible action against the Palestinians over their appeal to the ICC to investigate it for possible war crimes committed in occupied West Bank.
Israel has threatened to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority (PA) following its appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the country for possible war crimes committed in occupied Palestinian territories, according to local Arabic and Israeli reports.

A senior unnamed Israeli official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that the government is considering possible action against the Palestinians.

"The Palestinian leadership has to understand there are consequences for their actions," the official said, according to the paper.

"For them to suppose that they can go to the ICC and it will be business as usual from Israel is a very questionable proposition," he added, referring to a report by Israeli broadcaster Kan that said Israel has rejected proposals to launch joint economic projects with the PA unless the Palestinians refuse to cooperate with the ICC.

Possible Israeli sanctions on the Palestinians will also affect economic programmes funded by international donors, a report an Arab48 said.

Read also: Is the ICC the new frontier of Israeli exceptionalism?

Monday's reports came a day after Israel stripped the PA's foreign minister of a travel permit after he had met with the ICC's Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki met with Bensouda on Thursday, but on his return to the occupied West Bank on Sunday he had his "VIP card" withdrawn.

An Israeli radio station also reported that occupation authorities are planning to strip more PA officials of their VIP status, limiting their ability to travel.

The Hague-based ICC tribunal, which has faced frequent criticism by Israel, this month opened a formal investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories.

The world's only permanent war crimes tribunal, the ICC was set up in 2002 to try humanity's worst crimes where local courts are unwilling or unable to step in. 

Bensouda has said her investigation will cover the situation since 2014 in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, as well as in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

The Palestinians, who have been a state party to the ICC since 2015, have welcomed the investigation and said they will not seek any deferral.

Israel is not a member and has rejected the investigation, saying the court has no jurisdiction over its citizens.

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