A bipartisan group of members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote a letter Tuesday to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the State Department to revoke economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in response to the PA’s decision to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). The PA signed the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, on December 31st of last year.
The members of Congress who wrote the letter, including Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), stated that “The United States should not support direct economic assistance to the PA until it demonstrates a meaningful reversal of this destructive course and proves it can be a willing partner for peace.” The State Department called the PA’s actions with regards to the ICC “entirely counterproductive” and said they would “undermine trust and create doubts about their commitment to a negotiated peace.” Following the signing of the Rome Statute, the Palestinians asked the ICC to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes perpetrated during Operation Protective Edge last summer. The ICC has decided to open a preliminary probe to determine if war crimes were committed.
Joining the ICC puts the PA in violation of U.S. legislation that states that no State Department economic aid can be transferred to the PA if “the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.” The United States gives the PA around $400 million per year.
Joining the ICC also exposes the Palestinians to charges of war crimes. The Israel Law Center has filed complaints against three PA leaders for alleged war crimes, terrorism, and human rights offenses. These PA officials are Jordanian citizens. Jordan joined the ICC in 2002. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Director of Shurat Hadin – the Israel Law Center, said that “The PA and Hamas have to understand that the International Criminal Court is a double-edged sword.”