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 jurisdiction.
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.
“We want to strengthen our presence in international fora, all of it, not only in the General Assembly,” said the Palestinian ambassador, Riyad H. Mansour.
While 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.
Source: The New York Times