Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday urged Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to renew peace talks instead of pursuing efforts at the International Criminal Court (ICC) or United Nations.
"There is no other way than direct negotiations. Unilateral steps will not solve the conflict, but just give more power to the extremists," Rivlin was quoted by AFP as having said during a visit by a delegation of U.S. senators headed by Republican John McCain.
"I call upon President Abbas: instead of going to The Hague or to the United Nations, come to Jerusalem. Come to talk directly to the Israeli government and people," Rivlin said.
The PA applied earlier this month to become a party to the Hague-based ICC and recognized its jurisdiction to retroactively cover a period including the Gaza war.
The ICC announced Friday it was launching a "preliminary examination" into possible war crimes committed by war crimes against Palestinian Arabs.
The probe was slammed on Saturday by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who said, “Israel rejects the absurd decision of the ICC prosecutor. It’s absurd for the ICC to ignore international law and agreements, under which the Palestinians don't have a state and can only get one through direct negotiations with Israel."
The United States criticized the ICC decision on Friday, saying it opposed actions against Israel at the ICC as "counterproductive to the cause of peace."
"It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement.