RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed on to 20 international agreements on Wednesday, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a day after a bid for independence by 2017 failed at the United Nations Security Council.
The move which angered Israel and seemed likely also to draw US condemnation, paves the way for the court to take jurisdiction over crimes committed in Palestinian lands and investigate the conduct of Israeli and Palestinian leaders over more than a decade of bloody conflict.
“They attack us and our land every day, to whom are we to complain? The Security Council let us down — where are we to go?” Abbas told a gathering of Palestinian leaders in remarks broadcast on official television.
In the months leading up to Tuesday’s failed UN bid, Sweden recognised Palestinian statehood and the parliaments of France, Britain and Ireland passed non-binding motions urging their governments to do the same.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas’ action would expose the Palestinians to prosecution over support for what he called the terrorist Hamas Islamist group, and vowed to take steps to rebuff any potential moves against Israel.
Israel and Hamas fought a July-August war in which more than 2,100 Palestinians, 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were killed.
“We will take steps in response and defend Israel’s soldiers,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
Palestinians seek a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East War.
Momentum to recognise a Palestine has built up since Abbas succeeded in a bid for de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly in 2012, which made Palestinians eligible to join the ICC.
Other agreements approved by Abbas included several articles on the court’s jurisdiction, commitments against banned weapons and cluster munitions along with less controversial pledges on the political rights of women, navigation and the environment.