Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki submitted a referral on Tuesday to the International Criminal Court (ICC) asking prosecutors to immediately open a formal investigation into accusations of Israeli crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.
"The State of Palestine took an important and historic step towards justice for the Palestinian people who continue to suffer from ongoing, widespread and systematic crimes," Malki told press after meeting with ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
He said the referral addressed a myriad of issues including "settlement expansion, land grabs, illegal exploitation of natural resources, as well as the brutal and calculated targeting of unarmed protesters, particularly in the Gaza Strip".
For him, the evidence of Israeli crimes are "ample and insurmountable". The investigation should cover the period from mid-2014 to the present, including the deaths in last week's conflicts between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces, he added.
"This referral is Palestine's test to the international mechanism of accountability and respect for international law," the minister said.
In 2014, Palestine signed the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC. In January 2015, the Hague-based court decided to launch a preliminary inquiry into Palestine's request of an investigation into crimes on Palestinian territory. A formal investigation will be opened after the preliminary inquiry concludes.
Palestine's submitting of the referral came just days after more than 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces as they protested Washington's decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem.
Israel said Palestine's request was "legally invalid" as "the ICC lacks jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian issue, since Israel is not a member of the Court and because the Palestinian Authority is not a state".