Palestinians Become Observers at Meeting on International Criminal Court

The Palestinians on Monday became an observer for the
first time at the annual meeting of states that have joined the International Criminal Court, upgrading their
status within the organization but not, crucially, coming under the court’s

The change is symbolic but
significant nonetheless, considering how elusive statehood has proved for the
Palestinians in their prolonged conflict with Israel.

The General Assembly of the
United Nations voted to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state” in
a landmark resolution in
November 2012.

That recognition gave the
Palestinians the right, if they wished, to ratify the Rome Statute, the treaty
that established the International Criminal Court.

The 122 countries that have ratified the treaty, known
as the Assembly of States Parties, are meeting at the United Nations headquarters
this week, and Palestinian diplomats are participating as observers.

want to strengthen our presence in international fora, all of it, not only in
the General Assembly,” said the Palestinian ambassador, Riyad H. Mansour.

the Palestinians have not acceded to the Rome Statute, they have repeatedly
threatened Israel that they will.

Such a step could empower the
court to investigate and prosecute accusations of war crimes brought by the
Palestinians against Israel. The court also would be empowered to investigate
accusations against the Palestinians.

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