Palestinian permanent observer at the U.N., Riyad Mansour, submitted the official application to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) to the U.N. secretary-general last week. Through joining the ICC, Palestine aims to bring human rights violations and war crimes committed by Israeli troops to the court since Israeli actions remain unpunished despite many reports by the U.N. or independent nongovernmental organizations that have shown that Israel committed war crimes several times. The U.N. confirmed receipt of the documents and said the next steps were being reviewed. It will take a minimum of 60 days for the request to come into effect. The U.S. immediately voiced its concern over the application. A senior State Department official told Reuters on Friday that steps to join the ICC will have implications for U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority. "It should come as no surprise that there will be implications for this step, but we continue to review," the unnamed official said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Sunday said that Israel will not let its soldiers be tried at the ICC. "We will not let Israel Defense Forces soldiers and officers be dragged to the International Criminal Court in The Hague," Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting two days after the Palestinians filed the application to become a party to the court. Israeli leaders on Sunday threatened to take tougher action against the Palestinians over their decision to join the International Criminal Court, a day after freezing the transfer of more than $125 million in tax funds. In a first punitive response, Netanyahu decided in consultation with senior ministers on Thursday to withhold the next monthly transfer of tax revenue, totaling some 500 million shekels ($125 million), an Israeli official said on Saturday.
Despite siding with Israel, the U.S. that sends about $400 million in economic support to the Palestinians every year opposed to Israel's decision to freeze the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, a U.S. official said on Monday. "We call on both sides to avoid actions that raise tensions and make it more difficult to return to direct negotiations," said State Department spokeswoman Jean Psaki. Psaki said the U.S. Congress that begins a new term this week under Republican control, might react to the Palestinian move by withholding aid or implementing any number of other measures. "There could be implications on assistance. There is a range of ways that could take place. Congress has a great deal of power in that regard," she said.
If the application is accepted an investigation on the 50-day Israeli attacks on Gaza last summer could possibly be launched. A report released by Amnesty International in November accused the Israeli military of committing war crimes in Gaza during attacks on the Gaza Strip this summer that left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead including many civilians.