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Israel warns of 'retaliatory steps' as Palestine signs up to International Criminal Court

Benjamin Netanyahu called Israel’s soldiers “the most moral army in the world”.

Palestinian security forces march to mark the 50th anniversary of the Fatah movement in the West Bank city of Ramallah today.
Palestinian security forces march to mark the 50th anniversary of the Fatah movement in the West Bank city of Ramallah today.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

PALESTINE HAS SIGNED up to join the International Criminal Court in a bid to pursue war crime charges against Israel.

The move by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sets the stage for a diplomatic showdown with the United States and drew an angry response from Israel.

Abbas signed the Rome treaty governing the court and 19 other international agreements today, after the UN security council rejected a resolution calling for the end of the Israeli occupation by 2017.

“We want to complain. There’s aggression against us, against our land. The Security Council disappointed us,” Abbas said at a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement shortly after the move, saying it was Palestine “who needs to fear the International Criminal Court in the Hague”. He said the Palestinian Authority has a unity government with Hamas, which he compared to the Islamic State group and said commits war crimes.

Netanyahu called Israel’s soldiers “the most moral army in the world” and said the country would take unspecified “retaliatory steps”.

US State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said America strongly opposed the move and warned it would be “counter-productive and do nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state”.

“It will badly damage the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace,” Vasquez said in a statement.

Abbas has been under heavy domestic pressure to take action against Israel following months of tensions fuelled by the collapse of US-brokered peace talks, a 50-day war between in Gaza, and Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to a key Muslim holy site in Jerusalem.

Additional reporting by Órla Ryan

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