Palestinians on Friday presented documents to the United Nations that could theoretically allow them to pursue war-crime allegations against Israel.
Riyad Mansour, the head of the Palestinian delegation at the United Nations, handed over paperwork related to the Palestinian decision to sign several treaties, including one that would give the International Criminal Court at the Hague jurisdiction to investigate alleged atrocities in Palestinian territory. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the treaties on New Year's Eve in a move that angered Israel and Washington.
"This is a very significant step," Mansour told reporters. "It is an option that we are seeking in order to seek justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power."
The United Nations acknowledged that the Palestinians had presented documents related to 16 international treaties. It said in a statement that the submissions were "being reviewed with a view to determining the appropriate next steps."
The signed papers have no legal impact until they are ratified, and it is unclear whether the Palestinians will be accepted as a state for any of these treaties. But the push is likely to exacerbate an already tense situation. Some members of Congress have warned that humanitarian aid to the Palestinians may be in jeopardy. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Palestinians have more cause for concern about a war-crimes investigation than Israel does.
According to an Israeli official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Israel is considering taking legal action against the leaders of the Palestinian Authority in U.S. courts. Although the official would not be more specific, some Israelis who were injured or lost loved ones in suicide bombings say they look forward to taking the Palestinians to court.
Meanwhile, anger boiled over in the West Bank on Friday, ensnaring a convoy of diplomats from the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem.
According to the State Department, armed settlers confronted a vehicle in which the diplomats were traveling and pelted it with stones. The diplomats were heading to a Palestinian village to look into reports that Jewish settlers had uprooted 5,000 olive saplings in recent days.