The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (Photo: Reuters)
The Palestinian leadership is to petition the International Criminal Court in The Hague if it finds proof that the late Yasser Arafat was poisoned, an official said Tuesday.
"If it is proved that Arafat was poisoned, we will go to the international court," said Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the Palestinian commission investigating Arafat's death, referring to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
His remarks were made at a press conference which took place several hours after the veteran leader's remains were exhumed for testing by a team of international experts.
The controversial exhumation came two days before Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was to present a formal request for upgraded status at the United Nations, which would raise its rank from that of an observer entity to an observer state.
Such a move would allow the Palestinians to join many UN organisations or international treaties, such as the ICC or the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians.
The resolution is expected to easily pass in the 193-nation General Assembly after which the Palestinians would have to apply to become party to the Rome Statute, and only then could they be permitted to petition the ICC.
"This would be the first case for Palestine after getting international recognition as a (UN) non-member state," Tirawi said.