Rights groups urge Palestinians to join International Criminal Court

(Reuters) – Palestinian and international rights groups urged President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), building on U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood two years ago.

The 17 organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and prominent Palestinian groups Addameer and al-Haq, said acceding to the court would encourage both Israelis and Palestinians to respect international law and would end impunity for alleged war crimes.

Israel, which is not a party to the court, criticized their move, saying it could damage peace talks. It views the call as part of a unilateral Palestinian push to confront Israel after U.S.-backed peace talks collapsed last month amid mutual blame.

The rights groups said in a joint statement that the court’s oversight would help, not harm, peace efforts.