Palestinians Form Panel to Oversee ICC Lawsuits

Palestinians Form Panel to Oversee ICC LawsuitsPalestinians Form Panel to Oversee ICC Lawsuits

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the formation of a committee to follow up lawsuits to be brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israel in April, media reported Saturday.

Veteran Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has been nominated chairman of the panel, Xinhua news agency reported citing state-run Wafa news agency.

It will comprise members from various factions, non-governmental organizations and intellectuals, according to the report. The committee is aimed at preparing all needed documents and testimonies about Israel's war crimes committed last summer in the Gaza Strip and the Jewish state's settlement expansion.

The Palestinians say Israel committed war crimes when it carried out airstrikes and an invasion of Gaza, which left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead. The UN says most of those killed were civilians. Tens of thousands of homes in Gaza were also destroyed or badly damaged.

On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed by militant attacks in the conflict, which began in July and ended with a ceasefire in August.

On December 31, Abbas signed on to join 20 international treaties and agencies, including the Rome Statute and the ICC.

Earlier last month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that Palestine would join the ICC April 1.

On January 16, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes committed against Palestinians, including last year's Gaza war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted angrily to the prosecutor's decision, calling it "scandalous" and "absurd".