PARIS — The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday urged the International Criminal Court in The Hague to immediately carry out a full investigation into what it described as the successive and continuing Israeli crimes against Palestinians.
Israel immediately challenged the request, which came a week after at least 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in protests at the Gaza border, calling it “legally invalid.”
The Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Malki, arrived in The Hague on Tuesday to hand over a so-called referral to prosecutors that also calls for the court to investigate Israeli settlement policies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
According to a Palestinian statement, the document reinforces the Palestinian view “that there is sufficient compelling evidence of the ongoing commission of grave crimes to warrant an immediate investigation.”
The international court has been conducting preliminary inquiries since 2015 into issues including Israel’s policy of settlement construction in the West Bank and into the behavior of both sides in the fighting in Gaza in 2014.
The Palestinian statement on Tuesday, however, sought to accelerate the creation of a fuller investigation, potentially leading to indictments of Israeli officials.
“The referral should cover all the Israeli crimes and violations committed/to be committed against the people of Palestine in the past, present and future,” the Palestinian statement said. “The referral will cover crimes associated with the Israeli colonial settlement regime in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem.”
The international court “will be expected to accelerate the opening of a criminal investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel. It is time to hold the Israeli war criminals accountable and to bring justice to the Palestinian People,” the Palestinian statement said.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the International Criminal Court had no jurisdiction over the Israel-Palestine issue because Israel “is not a member of the Court and because the Palestinian Authority is not a state.”
The Palestinians became a full member of the court in April 2015 but gave the court a mandate to cover the 2014 conflict in Gaza. A number of countries, including several members of the European Union, have recognized their statehood.
The legal maneuver came at a moment of especially high tensions between Israelis and Palestinians after the United States formally relocated its embassy to Jerusalem and the fatal shooting of scores of Palestinians in Gaza, accused by Israel of trying to storm a border fence.
Marlise Simons reported from Paris, and Alan Cowell from London. Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.