Palestinians Press Israel War Crimes Trial After Gaza Killings

(Bloomberg) -- Palestinians pressed ahead with their campaign to bring Israel before a war crimes tribunal, escalating efforts to confront Israel diplomatically after its troops killed 60 people while targeting pockets of violence at a massive Gaza Strip protest this week.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed an official claim seeking to open a judicial investigation against Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary General Saeb Erekat said in a statement.
The claim will be formally submitted to the court after Palestinian and ICC officials meet.

The ICC is already examining Palestinian documents alleging Israeli war crimes with regard to multiple issues, including settlements and the 2014 Gaza war. The Palestinian Authority, which joined the court in 2015, say they had put off an official claim at the request of the U.S. in an effort to try to rekindle peace negotiations. But the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December, and announcement it would transfer its embassy to the contested city, led Abbas to cut off contacts with the U.S. and shun its peace negotiators.

The Palestinians see the Jerusalem move as undermining their claims to establish a capital in the city’s Israeli-occupied eastern sector, and dismiss President Donald Trump’s assertion that it won’t prejudge the city’s final status. In the next few days, the Palestinian Authority plans to go to the International Court of Justice to challenge the U.S. measures, Erekat said.

The Palestinian Authority summoned its ambassadors to the Czech Republic, Romania, Austria and Hungary for consultations after those countries attended inaugural celebrations for the U.S. Embassy, according to Amal Jadou, the assistant minister for European Affairs at the Palestinian Foreign Ministry.

Guatemala followed Washington’s suit on Wednesday and moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Congressman Fernando Linares Beltranena expressed gratitude that Israel sold it weapons to counter an insurgency decades ago. Paraguay is set to relocate its embassy later this month.

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