PA premier Shtayyeh: ICC should order arrest of those who call to destroy villages

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Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh urged the International Criminal Court on Saturday to file arrest warrants against “those who call for the destruction of Palestinian villages,” apparently referring to the minister’s call Finance Bezalel Smotrich to “destroy” the town of Huwara in the West Bank.

The minister’s remarks on Huwara – where hundreds of settlers fled last month hours after two Israeli brothers were shot dead in a terrorist attack – sparked international headlines and prompted the Biden administration to weigh in on denying him the entry visa he needed to serve Israel Bonds. conference in Washington.

Since making the arson declaration, Smotrich has tried several times to walk away. The remarks overshadowed his recent trip to the United States, where no government officials held talks with him and many of the major Jewish groups refused to meet with him.

Another far-right lawmaker, Otzma Yehudit MK Zvika Fogel, called for “villages to be burned” in response to the shooting attack. He was questioned by police this week over alleged incitement to terror over the comments.

In a statement on Saturday, Shtayyeh said that “Israel’s killing machine does not stop, every day, every hour and every minute, without any regard for international law.”

“In everything related to Ukraine, the international court works at a higher speed, but as far as the Palestinians are concerned, it is nowhere to be found,” he said, apparently referring to a decision the ICC to issue an arrest warrant. for Russian President Vladimir Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Shtayyeh’s remarks came as Israeli, Palestinian, American, Egyptian and Jordanian officials were set to meet on Sunday in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh for a summit aimed at helping foster regional calm. before the sensitive period of Ramadan, which begins next week.

Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp during an Israeli army raid, March 7, 2023. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting almost nightly raids on the West Bank amid a series of deadly terrorist attacks in Palestine. Those tensions have escalated further in recent weeks, with a cycle of deadly Israeli raids and Palestinian revenge attacks, as well as an uptick in settler violence.

Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel and the West Bank in recent months have left 14 Israelis dead and many others injured.

At least 85 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them in attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were unrelated civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

Over the past year, groups based in Gaza – notably Islamic Jihad – have fired rockets at Israel in response to members killed or captured in the West Bank.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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