A day after Israel revoked his special travel permit following his visit to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki on Monday, March 22, 2021, reiterated the Palestinians’ determination about maintaining contact with the ICC prosecutor. Al-Maliki had met with the incoming ICC prosecutor as well as the outgoing prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who this month had announced the ICC’s intention to open an investigation into war crimes and human rights violations being committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Immediately after the foreign minister returned to the occupied West Bank via the Israeli-controlled border crossing on the border with neighboring Jordan, Israel authorities cancelled his special VIP travel permit. The document makes it easier for Palestinian government officials to travel through the numerous Israeli checkpoints spread across the West Bank as well as official travel abroad. Israeli security services reportedly also stopped the foreign minister’s entourage upon their arrival and interrogated them for approximately one-and-a-half hours. Denouncing the Israeli actions, Palestinian foreign ministry official, Ahmed al-Deek, in a statement said, “This is the foreign minister of the State of Palestine. He doesn’t represent himself. He represents the State of Palestine, and we regard this as an attack against the State of Palestine. This proves once again that Israel is a rogue state, which cannot solve cases by law, but rather resorts to intimidation, sanctions and threats.”
According to the foreign minister, Israeli authorities also warned the Palestinian delegation that they consider the Palestinian Authority (PA) communicating with the ICC to be a red line, and threatened to impose sanctions on the PA if they continue to coordinate with the ICC. The foreign minister, in his meeting, had promised the ICC of the Palestinian Authority’s full cooperation in its war crimes probe. The foreign ministry, in a statement, stressed “the importance of expediting investigations into the crimes committed in the territory of the State of Palestine, in a manner that ensures justice for the victims and their families among the Palestinian people.”
The ICC investigation will look into and examine war crimes committed in Palestine, such as the killing of Palestinians by the Israeli military during the attack on Gaza in 2014, as well as the killing of Palestinians at the Gaza-Israel border during the weekly March of Great Return protests of 2018. Palestinian armed groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad will also be investigated.