Israel Palestine Nakba Day
A masked Palestinian boy takes part in a protest marking the 66th anniversary of Nakba, near the border of east Gaza City with IsraelReuters

When Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute in December 2014 it came with a great deal of fanfare both from overseas and within the West Bank and Gaza, after the most violent and acrimonious year in Israeli-Palestinian relations since the dark days of the second intifada.

Abbas accepted jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and invited the prosecutor to investigate allegations of war crimes dating from June 2014, a period that included the 50-day war in Gaza when 2,100 Palestinians were killed, most during Israeli air strikes.

The Palestinians also want the court to investigate Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, which is a war crime under the Rome Statute and illegal under international law.

"There are two main files that Palestine will be working on with the court. One is the latest Israeli aggression in Gaza and the other is Israeli settlements [...] we signed going back to 13 June 2014 so we can deal only with crimes committed after that date," a senior official with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) told IBTimes UK.

On Monday the Jerusalem Post claimed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had shelved its complaint to the ICC in return for the freeing up of 500m shekels ($125m; £83m) in tax revenues that Israel had been withholding from the Palestinians, but the official said that the revelations – attributed to an unnamed source – were "garbage".

But there are questions about how much teeth the ICC actually has. In December 2014, the court dropped charges against Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta after a seven-year case that related to an orgy of violence that followed the 2007 elections. The Guardian reported that the ICC had only begun nine investigations since it was established in 2002, and the Kenyatta case only served to bolster the view that it was largely ineffective.

Alan Baker, Israel's former ambassador to Canada and a member of Israel's panel of arbitrators at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, said that while the ICC could open an investigation into Israel, if it ever went before judges it would be thrown out because Palestine does not have statehood and cannot pursue cases in the court.

Palestine is currently classed as a non-member observer state in the UN - with the same status as the Holy See - and has not attained full statehood despite almost 70% of UN countries supporting its 2011 bid. The PLO argues that the UN's granting of 'observer state' status in 2012 is a de facto recognition of Palestine, but full statehood is unlikely given the current impasse with peace talks with the Israelis - not to mention Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent statements on the matter.

Indeed, the initiative - which will garner plenty of media fanfare - smacks more of a grandstand in casting Israel as a rogue state, as the chances of an Israeli general seeing the inside of the dock are tiny.

"I'm convinced this whole thing is a PR exercise. A bluff. The ICC has [not] got the authority to consider them a state," said Baker.

Baker added that even if the case was to come to the court the investigation could take years and could result in counter-action by Israeli against Hamas or Islamic Jihad commanders for their actions during the Gaza war, when hundreds of rockets were fired at Israeli cities.

"If I were a Hamas commander, I'd phone Abbas and say: 'Hey, you be very careful, because you are bringing about a situation where I might well be indicted for violations of the laws of war'," he said.

But the PLO official said that Palestine was ready to accept the consequences if that were to happen, and that militant Palestinian factions were behind Mahmoud Abbas's signing of the Rome Statute. He said that the move would force nations that support the ICC to reconsider their backing for Israel - neither Israel nor the US are signatories to the Rome Statute.

"We have said that we are going to court, not a pro-Palestinian institution or a pro-Palestinian forum. It is a court that deals with law and when you go to a court you accept the court's jurisdiction, which is what Palestine did," he said.

"We have been very clear that there is an overwhelming support from all our people and particularly from political parties including Hamas to Palestine ascension to the ICC. They know there could be consequences."