The PA Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad Al-Malki has exposed that the PA and the Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, have been in constant contact and that Bensouda even gave the PA advance notice of her decision to formally open an investigation, but asked that the PA ”keep it secret”.
Speaking to official PA TV last week, Al-Malki also explained that PA representatives intend to meet with the Prosecutor in the near future, Palestinian Media Watch has revealed.
Discussing the case with the host of Topic of the Day, Al-Malki said: “We are in constant contact with her [Bensouda]… and her office from the first moment when we set foot in the ICC in 2014… [We’re in touch] directly or indirectly, through the visits we are making, through the contact via our delegation at The Hague, or through the periodical reports we are submitting to the general prosecutor’s office.”
He continued: “We made contact before the announcement [of the ICC investigation], and we were informed a number of hours before the announcement that there will be an announcement. We knew about this, but they asked us to keep it secret.”
Making it clear that there is still ongoing discussion between Bensouda and the PA on how to proceed with the ICC investigation into alleged war crimes by Israel, Al-Malki added: “We are currently seriously considering visiting The Hague and meeting with the general prosecutor to discuss the following steps. What can be expected from her? … What is required of us? What do they expect from the government of the State of Palestine in this matter, and when can we expect the arrival of the ICC’s first delegations for preparations ahead of beginning the investigation?”
Asked by the host whether there had been contact between Bensouda’s office and the PA following the decision to prosecute, Al-Malki replied: “There was, there was. Yes, contact has been made between us and the general prosecutor’s office regarding the request for a meeting,” adding that, dependent on the coronavirus situation in Holland, “Maybe the meeting will be possible next week. Maybe it will be the following week or later.”
Maurice Hirsch Adv, Director of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch commented: “Theoretically, the ICC investigation of the “situation in Palestine” is meant to examine the claims that all sides, including Palestinians, have allegedly committed crimes covered by the Rome Statute. Crimes committed by the PA officials would potentially include the incitement to murder Israelis and the PA policy of paying financial rewards to terrorists and their families.
“The potential crimes of other Palestinian terrorist groups, such as Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine would include inciting and conducting systematic attacks on Israel’s civilian population, including murder, and indiscriminately firing rockets at Israel’s civilian population.”
However, despite this, the PA’s Ministry of Affairs warmly welcomed the decision by Bensouda. A statement by the Ministry reported by Wafa (English edition) on March 3, 2021 demonstrated the PA’s belief that only Israel’s actions will be under scrutiny.
“The State of Palestine welcomes the announcement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on proceeding with the investigation into the Situation in the State of Palestine,” the statement announced. “The State of Palestine reminds the Prosecutor and States Parties that the crimes committed by officials of the occupying Power against the Palestinian people are ongoing, systematic, and widespread.”
The PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs ended by saying, “The State of Palestine stands ready to cooperate with and extend all assistance to the Office of the Prosecutor and the Court during this investigation.”
This is clearly not the language of any person or body, who, despite having openly committed crimes that should be covered by any investigation, has any reservations about the opening of the investigation.
Hirsch concluded that: “The level of collusion between the PA and the Prosecutor would appear to explain the general sense within the PA that its personnel, and other Palestinian terrorists, are and will remain immune from investigation. The actions of Bensouda are a clear breach of her legal, ethical and moral duties, and undermine the legitimacy of the ICC.”