Palestinian foreign minister promises co-operation with international courts

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki speaks to reporters in The Hague (Molly Quell/AP)
The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki speaks to reporters in The Hague (Molly Quell/AP)

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister told reporters on Thursday that he fully supports an International Criminal Court investigation into the Palestinian territories, and he called for a full ceasefire to bring humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

The court in The Hague investigates and prosecutes people for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Palestinian foreign affairs minister Riyad al-Maliki met chief prosecutor Karim Khan twice during a two-day visit to the Netherlands to drum up international support for an ICC investigation.

Asked by journalists if he would support the court looking into Hamas’s surprise October 7 attacks in southern Israel, he said that the Palestinian Authority would not interfere with the investigation.

“We cannot say ‘investigate here, don’t investigate there’,” Mr al-Maliki said.

UN Security Council
German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, left, greeting Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki before the start of a Security Council meeting at UN headquarters this week (Seth Wenig/AP)

The international court launched an investigation in 2021 into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories, focusing on military operations against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and the expansion of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Mr Khan confirmed last week that his mandate would extend to Palestinians who carried out crimes against Israelis. The investigation was spurred by the last major conflict in Gaza, but can analyse war crimes allegations from the current Israel-Hamas conflict.

Israel argues the ICC has no jurisdiction in the conflict because Palestine is not an independent sovereign state. Israel is not a party to the treaty that underpins the international court and is not one of its 123 member states.

After his visit to court, Mr al-Maliki said Israel was waging a war of revenge on Gaza that has violated international law.

“It has no real objective other than the total destruction of every livable place in Gaza,” he said.

He urged world leaders to back a UN General Assembly resolution put forward by Arab nations that calls for a ceasefire to allow in humanitarian aid.

While in The Hague, the Palestinian delegation also made submissions to the International Court of Justice, which is considering the legality of Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution asking the UN’s highest judicial body to give its opinion on the situation last year. Hearings in those proceedings are scheduled for February 2024.

More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel, mostly in the initial Hamas rampage. Israel has responded with a series of bombing strikes that, according to Mr al-Maliki, have killed some 7,000 people and left more than 20,000 injured.

He also accused Israel of focusing airstrikes on the southern part of Gaza after telling Palestinians living in the north to relocate.