The US has slammed the UN's move to accept Palestine as a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The State Department says Palestine does not qualify for the ICC membership because it is not a sovereign state.
"The United States does not believe that the state of Palestine qualifies as a sovereign state and does not recognize it as such and does not believe that it is eligible to accede to the Rome statute," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Wednesday, referring to the convention under which the International Criminal Court (ICC) was set up.
The US, which is not a full member of the ICC, is unlikely to block the move; however, it can cut off its annual aid of $440 million (372 million euros) to the Palestinian Authority.
A request by Palestine to join the ICC was accepted by the UN earlier on Wednesday, according to UN spokesperson Stephanie Dujarric.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had been quoted by the Associated Press and DPA news agencies late Tuesday as saying that the authority would join the ICC on April 1.
In late December, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed documents applying to join the ICC following a failed bid at the United Nations Security Council to set a timeline for setting up a Palestinian state on lands occupied by Israel.
The long-signaled move, part of a broader Palestinian strategy to achieve statehood, has been condemned by both Israel and the US as an impediment to reaching a permanent peace deal.
The ICC was established to prosecute individuals who perpetrate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
While joining the court would give Palestinians the ability to pursue war crimes charges against Israelis, an ICC investigation could also possibly lead to war crimes charges against Palestinians.
shs/msh (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)