The statement by the Prosecutor’s Office said, “The Office has made significant progress in its assessment of the relevant factual and legal matters necessary for the determination of whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.”
“This assessment will continue, under the strict guidance of the Statute and with a view to reaching conclusions on jurisdictional issues within a reasonable time frame.”
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda began an investigation Israel’s war crimes in Palestinian territories in 2015 after the Palestinian Authority signed the Rome Statute and accepted the court’s jurisdiction over Palestinian territories. In April, when commenting on Gaza protests that have taken place since the March for Return, Bensouda said that violence against civilians could constitute an international crime.
In October, she also warned Israel not to demolish the Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar, mentioning that the action will be regarded as a war crime. This came after Palestinian leadership petitioned the ICC in September to start a legal process against Israel over their actions in the village.
According to the statement, the office has gathered multiple data from various sources alleging Israel's of gross violation of human rights and illegal expansion into the West Bank.
“Between 1 August 2016 and 30 September 2017, according to figures published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israeli authorities have confiscated and/or demolished 734 Palestinian-owned structures, including 180 residential inhabited structures, of which 48 were located in East Jerusalem. These demolitions and evictions reportedly resulted in the alleged displacement of 1,029 individuals, including 493 women and 529 children,” the statement from the prosecutor's office reported.
This continuous attack on Palestinian structures and villages paves the way for Israel to expand its illegal settlements in West Bank. In doing so it could effectively cut the occupied West Bank in half, sabotaging the viability of a Palestinian state.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said in response to the ICC statement, "The prosecutor's office yearly report on its preliminary probes was just published and we are looking into it. As is well known, Israel is not a member of the International Criminal Court and our clear stance is that the court does not have authority to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, among other things because the Palestinian Authority is not a state. We expect that the prosecutor will determine the same thing at the conclusion of the preliminary probe."
Avichai Mandelblit, Israel’s Attorney General said that he was drafting a legal opinion that would refute ICC’s legitimacy to discuss Israel-Palestine because according to him, “there is no Palestinian State”.