Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court opened a preliminary examination on Friday of possible war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, the first formal step that could lead to charges against Israelis.
Palestinian officials welcomed the announcement of the inquiry by the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, who described it as required procedure. Israeli officials reacted furiously, calling it an inflammatory action in the protracted dispute with the Palestinians over Israeli-occupied lands.
Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said he would recommend that his government not cooperate with the inquiry. He also said Israel would seek to disband the court, which he described as an anti-Israel institution that “embodies hypocrisy and grants a tailwind to terrorism.”
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, “Palestine considers this as an important positive step toward achieving justice and ensuring respect for international law.”