[JURIST] Israel has threatened to deny the Palestinian Authority (PA) [IMEU backgrounder] permission for a second cellular phone provider to operate in the West Bank unless the PA drops its request that the International Criminal Court [official website] investigate Israel for possible war crimes, Haaretz [media website] reported [text] Sunday. The PA has contracted with Wataniya Mobile [corporate website] to provide service in the West Bank and faces a $300 million penalty if it does not receive Israel's approval by October 15. According to the report, Israel is using the impending deadline to pressure the PA into dropping its request [JURIST report] that the ICC investigate Israel for possible war crimes committed in December and January during Operation Cast Lead [Global Security backgrounder]. Israeli officials, according to Haaretz, feel betrayed by the PA, claiming that the PA urged Israel to take a strong stand against Hamas and then appealed to the ICC when Israel did so.
Israel recently rejected [JURIST report] a UN recommendation that the country establish an independent investigation into its actions during Operation Cast Lead. The recommendation came from a report [text, JURIST report] released earlier this month that found both Israeli and Palestinian forces had likely committed war crimes during the conflict. Israel refused to cooperate [JURIST report] in the investigation. Although the PA appealed to the ICC in February, the court ruled [JURIST report] it must first consider whether the PA is similar enough to a state under international law to appeal to the court.