US `strongly opposes` Palestinian ICC membership

The United States said Wednesday it "strongly opposes" a request from the Palestinian Authority to join the International Criminal Court, fearing this will further delay peace talks with Israel.

Washington: The United States said Wednesday it "strongly opposes" a request from the Palestinian Authority to join the International Criminal Court, fearing this will further delay peace talks with Israel.

"We are deeply troubled by today`s Palestinian action regarding the ICC," said Jeffrey Rathke, a State Department spokesman.

"Today`s action is entirely counterproductive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state." 

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas issued requests Wednesday for his authority to join 20 international conventions, including that governing the ICC, each a step on the road to statehood.

Washington supports the Palestinians` quest for a state, but sides with its ally Israel insisting that they not take unilateral steps in this direction before reaching a peace deal with their neighbor.

Rathke said the Palestinians` ICC request "badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.

"The United States continues to strongly oppose actions -- by both parties -- that undermine trust and create doubts about their commitment to a negotiated peace.

"Our position has not changed. Such actions only push the parties further apart."

The Palestinian move came after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution on ending the Israeli occupation late Tuesday.

Palestinian leaders hope ICC membership will pave the way for war crimes prosecutions against Israeli officials. Israel has warned that joining the court could also expose Palestinians to prosecution.

The Hague-based court prosecutes individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. 

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