JERUSALEM — President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority signed papers Wednesday to join the International Criminal Court, a provocative move that could lead to the prosecution of Israeli officials on charges of war crimes and risks severe sanctions from Washington and Jerusalem.
The defiant step came a day after the defeat of a United Nations Security Council resolution that demanded an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory by 2017. It was billed as part of a strategic shift by the Palestinian leadership to pursue statehood in the international arena after decades of failed American-brokered negotiations with Israel.
“There is aggression practiced against our land and our country, and the Security Council has let us down — where shall we go?” Mr. Abbas said at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, as he signed the Rome Statute, the founding charter of the court, as well as 17 other international treaties and conventions.
“We want to complain to this organization,” he said of the court. “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.”