Palestinians not eligible to join ICC: US

A woman walks up to the offices of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague (AFP Photo/Robin Utrecht)

Washington (AFP) - The Palestinians are not eligible to join the International Criminal Court, a senior US official said Wednesday after the UN accepted a Palestinian request to adhere to the tribunal.

"The United States does not believe that the state of Palestine qualifies as a sovereign state and does not recognize it as such and does not believe that it is eligible to accede to the Rome statute" under which the ICC was set up, said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

She also stressed that the US administration would comply with the law on funding the Palestinians, amid new moves in Congress to freeze about $440 million in annual aid if the Palestinian Authority seeks to join the court.

The United States, however, is not a member of the International Criminal Court, and it remains unclear what power it has to block the move after UN chief Ban Ki-moon accepted the Palestinians request late Tuesday.

Psaki said the administration was in close consultations with Congress, and State Department lawyers were still looking at the implications of existing legislation.

Under the US budget for fiscal year 2015 passed in late December, aid to the Palestinians would be cut off if it tries to haul Israel before the court on war crimes charges following the 50-day war in Gaza.

But Senator Rand Paul late Tuesday introduced a draft bill which would freeze all monies to the Palestinians even for seeking recognition at the ICC.