ICC allows UK to submit arguments on jurisdiction over Israelis in Gaza case

Aftermath of an Israeli strike on a school sheltering displaced people, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled on Thursday that the United Kingdom can submit legal arguments to judges mulling the prosecution's request for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

Court documents made public on Thursday showed that the UK, an ICC member state, filed a request with the court earlier this month to provide written observations on whether "the court can exercise jurisdiction over Israeli nationals, in circumstances where Palestine cannot exercise criminal jurisdiction over Israeli nationals (under) the Oslo Accords".

The judges said the court would also accept submissions from other interested parties on the legal issue, but set a July 12 deadline for filings.

Granting the UK's request might delay the judges' pending decision on arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant over Israel's war in Gaza, as ICC prosecutor Karim Khan had requested in May.

The ICC has had an ongoing investigation into any alleged crimes within its jurisdiction committed on Palestinian territory and by Palestinians on the territory of Israel since 2021.

In that year, ICC judges ruled that the court has jurisdiction after the Palestinian authorities signed up to the court in 2015, after being granted United Nations observer state status.

The decision, however, left a ruling on the interpretation of the 1993 Oslo Accords regarding Palestinian jurisdiction over Israeli nationals for a later stage in the proceedings.

The UK's argument is that the Palestinian authorities cannot have jurisdiction over Israeli nationals under the Oslo Accords, and so it cannot transfer that jurisdiction over to the ICC to prosecute Israelis.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg, Charlotte Van Campenhout; Editing by Leslie Adler)