Palestinians outraged over ICC report

Preliminary investigation into breaches of international law followed 2014 conflict in Gaza

This picture taken on December 5, 2019 shows a section of Israel's controversial separation barrier from a hill top in Jerusalem.  / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND
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Palestinian officials expressed “great concern” on Thursday over a report by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, which includes criticism of payments to families of those killed or imprisoned in the fight against Israel.

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Malki said the report was “based on misleading narratives of a political nature, rather than an objective and accurate description of the relevant facts”.

The Palestinians have long sought redress with international bodies including the ICC for what they consider to be Israeli crimes.

The say the payments are a national duty to families affected by decades of violence.

This year, Israel withheld millions of dollars in tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The amount held was equal to the sum of the Palestinian stipends.

Mr Abbas has repeatedly said he would not halt the payments, which in 2018 totalled about $330 million (Dh1.2 billion), or more than 6 per cent of the Palestinian Authority’s $5bn budget.

Thursday’s report highlighted possible crimes by Israel and the Palestinians that are under investigation, including Israel’s use of deadly force against protesters along the Israel-Gaza border fence.

At the Palestinians’ request, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary investigation in 2015 into breaches of international law after the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Thursday’s report said the prosecutor “believes that it is time to take the necessary steps to bring the preliminary examination to a conclusion”.