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Palestinians submit ICC documents

Palestinian authorities have submitted documents to the United Nations to join the International Criminal Court, a move that would enable them to seek war crimes charges against Israel.

The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, delivered the documents - known as instruments of ratification - to the assistant secretary-general for legal affairs, Stephen Mathias.

The International Criminal Court has recognised the UN General Assembly's recognition of Palestine as an observer state.

Handing over the documents is the last formal step for Palestine to become a member of the ICC, which would take at least 60 days.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed the documents after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution setting a three-year deadline for the establishment of a Palestinian state on lands occupied by Israel.

Israel has threatened retaliation if the Palestinians join the court, and the US has also opposed the move as an obstacle to hopes of an Israeli-Palestinians peace deal.

Mr Abbas is under heavy pressure to take stronger action against Israel after a 50-day war between the Jewish state and militants in Gaza over the summer.

At the international court, the Palestinians could seek to have Israeli military or political figures prosecuted for alleged crimes involving settlement construction on occupied lands or actions by the military that cause heavy civilian casualties, for instance.

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