Int'l investigation into Israeli crimes glimmer of hope to restore Palestinian rights: Al-Azhar grand imam

Ahram Online , Monday 8 Feb 2021

The International Criminal Court said on Friday it has the authority to investigate war crimes committed in the occupied territories

Israel security forces
Israeli security forces fire tear gas during clashes with Palestinian protesters following a demonstration against the expansion of settlements, near the village of Beit Dajan, east of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, on February 6, 2021. AFP

The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s top religious institution, has welcomed the recent preliminary ruling of the International Criminal Court's (ICC) which stipulates the court has jurisdiction to investigate any crimes  committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories, describing the ruling as a "a glimmer of hope to restore part of the usurped Palestinian rights."

"I call upon the international community to support the Palestinian people until the establishment of their independent state, with Holy Jerusalem as its capital," El-Tayyeb wrote on social media on Sunday.

On Friday, the ICC said it has the authority to investigate crimes committed in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, a step that vexed Israeli officials and was welcomed by Palestinians.

The court said the decision lays the groundwork for opening a criminal investigation.

Investigating Israeli atrocities during its 2014 war against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as well as its construction of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank have always been a demand by many Palestinian officials at the ICC.

The ICC investigates and tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community, including war crimes in accordance with the Rome Statute, the court's founding treaty.

Palestine joined the court in 2015, but Israel has never ratified the Rome Statute.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, hailed the ICC's "This is a great day as we have achieved what we want, and starting today the International Criminal Court will begin to accept the cases that we previously submitted."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assailed the decision, saying in a video statement "When the ICC investigates Israel for fake war crimes, this is pure anti-Semitism," reported Reuters.

US State Department Spokesman Ned Price tweeted on Saturday: "The United States objects to today’s @IntlCrimCourt decision regarding the Palestinian situation. Israel is not a State Party to the Rome Statute."

Egypt has maintained its position of rejecting illegal settlements in Palestinian territories as well as its full support for establishing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital based on the 1967 borders.

Al-Azhar has repeatedly condemned Israeli violations of Palestinian rights including Tel Aviv's aggressions againstIslamic holy sites in Jerusalem and the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

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