Palestine moves to join Hague court, file war crimes against Israel

Tensions between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United States escalated Wednesday when the PA signed papers to join the International Criminal Court.

The step to join the court and more than a dozen other international organizations is meant to move the Palestinian Authority towards statehood, a step opposed by Israel. 

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It risks new U.S. sanctions against the Palestinians, creating a delicate new challenge for President Obama. 

President Mahmoud Abbas signed the papers after a defeat of a United Nations Security Council resolution on Tuesday that demanded Israel end its occupation of Palestinian territory by 2017. 

Abbas said he would use membership in the new body to seek war crimes charges against Israel.

The State Department and Israel said the decision to join the court casts a pall over the negotiations that could lead to Palestinian statehood. 

"It will badly damage the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace," State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said in a statement.

He warned it would be "counter-productive and do nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that “the one who needs to fear the International Criminal Court in the Hague is the Palestinian Authority, which has a unity government with Hamas, a terror organization like (the Islamic State group) which commits war crimes.” 

Netanyahu also said that Israel would take unspecified "retaliatory steps."

Israel and the United States have said that Palestine can only gain independence through negotiations.

Abbas has been threatening to take action to join the court over the past two years and said he would move forward if the U.N. resolution failed.

“There is aggression practiced against our land and our country, and the Security Council has let us down, where shall we go?” Abbas said as he signed the Rome Statute, according to news reports.

“We want to complain to this organization,” he said. “As long as there is no peace, and the world doesn’t prioritize peace in this region, this region will live in constant conflict. The Palestinian cause is the key issue to be settled.”

On Tuesday, Samantha PowerSamantha PowerGlobe heaps scorn on Trump for Paris exit House Intel chair made requests to unmask Americans: report Seven subpoenas issued in House Russia probe MORE, the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, said that resolution was rejected because it addressed "the concerns of only one side.”

“It is deeply imbalanced and contains many elements that are not conducive to negotiations between the parties, including unconstructive deadlines that take no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns,” Power said.

"We voted against this resolution not because we are indifferent to the daily hardships or the security threats endured by Palestinians and Israelis, but because we know that those hardships will not cease and those threats will not subside until the parties reach a comprehensive settlement achieved through negotiations."