Israel has begun implementing economic sanctions against the Palestinians and is looking at ways to prosecute senior Palestinians for war crimes in the United States and elsewhere in response to Palestinian steps to join the International Criminal Court, Israeli officials said on Saturday, Yediot Ahronot reported.
The Palestinians delivered to UN headquarters in New York on Friday documents on joining the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and other global treaties, saying they hoped to achieve "justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power". The Hague-based court looks at cases of severe war crimes and crimes against humanity such as genocide.
Israeli sources said that Israel has frozen the transfer of half a billion shekels (about $125 million) from tax funds collected on behalf of the PA by Israel and distributed every month, in response to the Palestinians' request. The frozen funds were scheduled to go through this month, but the decision was made Thursday during a discussion convened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
A senior Palestinian official slammed the decision as "Israeli piracy."
Meanwhile, an Israeli official told Reuters the Palestinian leaders "ought to fear legal steps" after their decision to sign onto the Rome Statute.
"Israel is weighing the possibilities for large-scale prosecution in the United States and elsewhere" of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior Palestinians, the official said.
Israel would probably press these cases via non-governmental groups and pro-Israel legal organisations capable of filing lawsuits abroad, a second Israeli official said, explaining how the mechanism might work.