On 5 December 2019, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) released an advance Report of the Office of the Prosecutor on Preliminary Examinations 2019, including a six-page section on the Situation of Palestine. The report contained a number of unwarranted and disturbing omissions, including the exclusion of the Gaza Strip from territories occupied since 1967. Moreover, the report failed to highlight Israel’s unlawful extension of sovereignty over Jerusalem in 1980 during the occupation, as an annexation in violation of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter and Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, a measure at the time condemned in the “strongest terms” as illegal under UN Security Council resolution 478 (1980). Critically, the Basic law to alter the legal status of Jerusalem itself is considered a violation of international law and which the international community is obliged to not recognize under Security Council mandate.
Throughout the report, both Israel and Palestine are treated as two equal parties to an ongoing conflict. Our organizations, Al-Haq, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) and Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al-Mezan), warn that the failure to adequately address the context is misleading. The situation is one of a 52-year prolonged belligerent occupation, where one party to the conflict, Israel the Occupying Power has subjugated the occupied population, who remain under its effective control and administration. This places certain obligations on Israel, and the violation of laws governing its administration of the occupied territory, may amount to grave breaches and war crimes, with some acts reaching the threshold of crimes against humanity.