The International Criminal Court will not hear a case involving allegations about Israeli conduct during Operation Cast Lead.
The decision by ICC prosecutor Jose Luis Moreno Ocampo was based on the fact that Palestine is not a state, and so does not fall under the court's jurisdiction.
Soon after the conflict the Palestinian Authority filed a request that an ICC war crimes tribunal should investigate alleged offences. The request was made in writing last July, but today the court said that under the terms of its founding Rome Statute, it could only open cases of internationally recognised states.
"The current status granted to Palestine by the UN general assembly is that of 'observer', not as a "non member state," said an ICC spokesman.
"It is for the relevant bodies at the UN or the Assembly of States Parties to make the legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a state for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute and thereby enabling the exercise of jurisdiction by the court," said the ICC.
"The Rome Statute provides no authority for the office of the prosecutor to adopt a method to define the term 'state'".
However the ICC said that it could consider the claims "should competent organs …resolve the legal issue".
Israel's Foreign Ministry praised the decision but added that it continued to have "reservations regarding some of the legal pronouncements and assumptions in the prosecutor's statement".