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Kerry: Palestinian Financial Troubles May Bring More Security Worries

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, talking to reporters in London, says that without its revenue, the Palestinian Authority might stop security cooperation with Israel or even disband, Feb. 21, 2015.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday that the Palestinian Authority's financial plight could hurt security for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Israel has been withholding tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority since last month to retaliate for the group's efforts to join the International Criminal Court.

Kerry said that without its revenue, the Palestinian Authority might stop security cooperation with Israel or even disband.

The secretary of state spoke with journalists before a Saturday meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in London, where he also discussed Iran's nuclear program, the struggle against the Islamic State, and the "egregious" Russian and separatist violations of the most recent cease-fire in Ukraine.

When the Palestinian Authority submitted documents to the United Nations to join the ICC, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N., called the move a "very significant step" that was necessary to seek justice for crimes against the Palestinian people.

The ambassador said the Palestinians were seeking retroactive jurisdiction from the ICC regarding crimes allegedly committed during last year's war in Gaza, which left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead, including many children. Seventy-three Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed in the conflict.

The document handover was the last formal step for the Palestinians to join the ICC, a process that takes at least 60 days.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed the documents after the U.N. Security Council rejected a draft resolution setting a three-year deadline for the establishment of a Palestinian state on lands occupied by Israel after the 1967 war.

Israel responded by freezing $125 million in Palestinian tax revenues. The Palestinians rely on that monthly money transfer from Israel to run their government and pay the salaries of civil servants. Both the European Union and the U.S. criticized Israel's decision.

By becoming members of the ICC, the Palestinians also open themselves up to countercharges of war crimes.

The U.N. formed the ICC in 1998. The court is considered an independent judicial institution and is not supervised by the United Nations. It prosecutes suspects accused of genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity. The court has no power to make arrests, but it does have the authority to issue arrest warrants, which can make it a problem for suspects to travel.