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Published: August 22, 2014 print this article Print save this article Save email this article Email ENLARGE TEXT increase font decrease font

Hamas backs International Criminal Court bid

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hamas has signed a pledge to back any Palestinian bid to join the International Criminal Court, two senior officials in the group said Saturday.
Palestinian acceptance of the court's jurisdiction could expose Israel — as well as Hamas — to war crimes investigations.
Hamas' written consent could further increase pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to turn to the court. Such pressure has been mounting since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on July 8, in which more than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza.
A hesitant Abbas has debated for months whether to join the international court, a step that could transform his relations with Israel from tense to openly hostile, strain his ties with the United States and deprive his government of badly needed Western financial support.
Last month, Abbas said he would not make a move without the written consent of all Palestinian factions. He obtained such support from all groups represented in the Palestine Liberation Organization, while Hamas, not a PLO member, said it would study the idea.
With Hamas now pledging its support in writing, Abbas likely will face stronger pressure at home to turn to the court, though it's still not clear if and when he might do so.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined comment. Israel opposes involving the court, arguing that Israel and the Palestinians should deal with any issues directly.

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