The International Criminal Court prosecutor rejected a bid by the Palestinian authority to clear the way for the permanent war crimes tribunal to investigate the Gaza conflict that began in December 2008.
The long-awaited written ruling by Luis Moreno-Ocampo also is a setback to Palestinians' campaign for international recognition as an independent state.
The Palestinian Authority unilaterally recognized the court's jurisdiction in January 2009 and prosecutors have been mulling ever since whether to accept that recognition, the first step in a process that could have finished with Israel being investigated for possible war crimes.
Under the court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, only internationally recognized states can join the court. Prosecutors listened to lawyers supporting the Palestinian bid and Israel's rejection of it before reaching Tuesday's decision.
In a statement, the prosecutor said it is up to "relevant bodies at the United Nations" or the group of nations that makes up the court to determine whether Palestinians can sign up to the Rome Statute.
The court can only launch investigations if asked by the U.N. Security Council or an involved state that has recognized the court.
Israel's Foreign Affairs ministry response:
"Israel takes note of the decision of the prosecutor of ICC, that it has no jurisdiction to handle complaints issued by the Palestinian Authority. Israel has never recognized such jurisdiction."
sources: AP, YNET