State of Palestine
Palestine Liberation Organization
ICC Higher National Committee
October 7, 2016
1. What is the context of this visit?
A delegation from the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) will visit Palestine, a state party to the Rome Statute, and Israel. As stated by the OTP: "The purpose of this visit will be to undertake outreach and education activities with a view to raising awareness about the ICC and in particular, about the work of the Office [and] to address any misperceptions about the ICC and to explain the preliminary examination process." The statement added that the delegation "will not engage in evidence collection in relation to any alleged crimes" or "assess the adequacy of the respective legal systems to deal with crimes that fall within ICC jurisdiction."
The visit comes within the framework of the preliminary examination initiated in the context of Palestine’s membership to the Court and after the Court received information from the State of Palestine, including information from civil society, on three main files: Colonization, Israel’s aggression against Gaza, and Palestinian prisoners. A few months ago, the Palestinian side was able to deliver presentations on the same matter to a delegation from the Court in Amman, Jordan.
2. What is Palestine's position regarding the visit?
The State of Palestine has welcomed the first visit of the OTP to Palestine. As we have previously stated, we have been cooperating with the Court, not only because this is an obligation for all Member States, but also out of the conviction that our people deserve access to justice.
No matter how many objections Israel has voiced regarding the ICC, its acceptance of the visit is a de facto recognition of Palestine being a Member State. Israel knows that the Court has received significant information about the crimes being committed by Israel in Occupied Palestine. In fact, this visit affirms that the ICC has jurisdiction regarding the crimes committed against Palestine. It is a clear intersection between the preliminary examination and this visit. At the same people, it is an opportunity for our people engage the Court, as well as a learning experience for the members of the delegation.
We will stress upon the urgency to move to the next stage regarding legal proceedings within the ICC process.
3. What stage is the Palestine file at in the legal proceedings at the ICC? Does Palestine have confidence in the work of the ICC?
As stated by the Court, “Upon receipt of a referral or a valid declaration made pursuant to article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor, in accordance with Regulation 25(1)(c) of the Regulations of the Office of the Prosecutor, and as a matter of policy and practice, opens a preliminary examination of the situation at hand. Accordingly, on 16 January 2015, the Prosecutor announced the opening of a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine in order to establish whether the Rome Statute criteria for opening an investigation are met. Specifically, under article 53(1) of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor shall consider issues of jurisdiction, admissibility and the interests of justice in making this determination.”1
Palestine trusts the system of justice of the ICC, believing in its impartiality and independence. It is a matter of time before justice prevails and war criminals are held accountable for their crimes. Palestine represents a serious test for the ICC that the Court cannot afford to lose.
4. What will be the meetings conducted in the Occupied State of Palestine?
On Saturday the ICC delegation will meet with the Higher National Committee that follows up on the ICC at a technical level. It will be followed by an exclusive interview with Palestine TV and a Palestinian newspaper. On Sunday the ICC delegation will attend an academic meeting at Bethlehem University.
The State of Palestine had officially requested the OTP visit Gaza, though it was declined. We hope that on their next visit the ICC delegation will visit other areas of the Occupied State of Palestine, including Hebron and the Jordan Valley.
Regarding the OTP’s delegation program in Israel, it was not officially released to the Palestinian side.
5. What will the next stage entail?
We expect the Court to conduct further visits to learn about the facts on the ground, as well as to meet with victims and associations toward opening an official investigation.