US, Israel Criticize Palestinian Pressure Ploy
JERUSALEM, Israel - Both the United States and Israel are criticizing a decision by the Palestinians to turn up the pressure on Israel by applying for membership in the International Criminal Court so they can accuse Israel of war crimes.
The Palestinians made the move a day after the U.N. Security Council rejected a resolution that would have forced Israel out of biblical Judea and Samaria by 2017 and established a Palestinian state there.
Turning to the court is a major policy shift for the Palestinians because it further damages the relationship with Israel.
The Palestinians are applying for membership in 19 other international bodies, too.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the applications at the beginning of an emergency meeting of the PLO and Fatah leaders and the ceremony was televised live on Palestinian television.
"We want to file a complaint [against Israel]. We are being attacked. Our lands are being attacked every day," Abbas said, adding that the U.N. Security Council had let them down.
U.S. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke called the decision to join the ICC "counterproductive" and said the United States was "deeply troubled" by what he called an "escalatory step."
"[It] does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state," he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to respond and was due to convene an urgent meeting on Thursday to consider possible responses.
Netanyahu also said Israel would defend Israel Defense Force soldiers whom he called "the most moral soldiers in the world."
Israel said the move could backfire because it opens up Palestinians, who carry out rocket and terror attacks against Israel, to charges from the court.