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Palestinian FM to press ICC to probe Israeli war crimes

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (Photo by AP)

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki is set to hold a meeting with the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to urge the world's only permanent war crimes court to conduct a thorough investigation into Israeli atrocities following the latest massacre of dozens of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Maliki will arrive in The Hague in the Netherlands late on Monday and will meet with ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda the next day, after at least 65 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces on May 14 as they protested the US decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.

More than 2,700 others were also wounded during the clashes near the Gaza fence on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem al-Quds.

The Palestinian embassy in The Hague said in a statement that Maliki would update Bensouda on the situation in the Palestinian territories and also "submit a referral" on the issue of Israeli settlements during their talks at the ICC.

The Palestinian foreign minister will also hold a press conference outside the court.

The meeting came after Bensouda said last week that she was closely watching the unrest in Gaza and would "take any action warranted" to prosecute Israeli crimes.

"My staff is vigilantly following developments on the ground and recording any alleged crime that could fall within" the tribunal's jurisdiction, she warned in a statement.

"The violence must stop," she stressed, calling on "all those concerned to refrain from further escalating this situation” and Israelis forces “to avoid excessive use of force."

The Palestinian Authority joined the ICC in January 2015.

The occupied territories have witnessed new tensions ever since US President Donald Trump on December 6, 2017 announced Washington's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” and said the US would move its embassy to the city.

The dramatic decision triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.

Muslim leaders have called for an international force to be deployed to protect Palestinian people against Israeli crimes.

In a final communiqué issued following an emergency meeting in Istanbul on Friday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the May 14 massacre of dozens of Gazans as "savage crimes committed by the Israeli forces with the backing of the US administration” and further demanded "the international protection of the Palestinian population including through dispatching of international protection force" in the face of "unchecked crimes" committed by the Te Aviv regime.

It also urged the UN to "form an international investigation committee into the recent atrocities in the Gaza Strip, and enable the committee to initiate field investigation."

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