US, Israel criticize Palestinian decision to join the International Criminal Court

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department says today's decision by the Palestinians to join the International Criminal Court will be "counterproductive."

In a statement, spokesman Edgar Vasquez says the move will do nothing to bring the Palestinian people closer to having an independent state. The statement says it will "badly damage the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today announced that the Palestinians would be joining the court so that they can pursue war crimes charges against Israel.

The move brought an angry reaction from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He says the Palestinian Authority should fear the judgments of the court -- since it has a unity government that includes Hamas. The Israeli leader describes Hamas as a "terror organization" like the Islamic State group, one that "commits war crimes." He also defends Israel's soldiers as "the most moral army in the world."

Abbas has been under pressure from Palestinians to take action against Israel following months of tensions. Yesterday, the U.N. Security Council rejected a resolution setting a deadline for Israel to withdraw from occupied lands claimed by the Palestinians. That increased the pressure on Abbas to act.

%@AP Links

072-a-09-(U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, in statement Tuesday)-"only one side"-U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power says the resolution did not serve the needs of both the Palestinians and the Israelis. (31 Dec 2014)

<<CUT *072 (12/31/14)££ 00:09 "only one side"

075-a-21-(Riyad Mansour (REE'-ahd mahn-SOOR'), Palestinian permanent representative to the U.N., in statement Tuesday)-"and international law"-Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour says the vote is another roadblock to solving Middle East issues. ((note length)) (31 Dec 2014)

<<CUT *075 (12/31/14)££ 00:21 "and international law"

APPHOTO CAIHK101: FILE - In this file photo taken Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting at his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Abbas said Wednesday, Dec. 31, that he is still weighing his options after a resounding defeat in the U.N. Security Council. But the Palestinian leader is hinting that he could join the International Criminal Court in the very near future - a move that would put him on a collision course with Israel. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File) (31 Dec 2014)

<<APPHOTO CAIHK101 (12/31/14)££

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