US Threatens ICC Over Netanyahu Warrant: Sanctions on the Table

World | May 21, 2024, Tuesday // 10:11|  views

United States lawmakers are considering imposing sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) if it issues an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to US House Speaker Mike Johnson. He stated that Congress is exploring various options, including sanctions, to penalize the ICC and ensure accountability for its leadership if they proceed with the warrant. Johnson emphasized the need for global condemnation of the ICC's decision, asserting that it lacks authority over Israel or the United States.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim A A Khan announced on May 20 the submission of arrest warrant applications against Netanyahu, Israel Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, and Hamas's top leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh, accusing them of crimes against humanity during Israel's recent conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Republican lawmakers have urged the United States to impose sanctions on the ICC, with House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik calling it an illegitimate court that equates a peaceful nation's defense with radical terror groups.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries described the warrants as "shameful and unserious." Representative Texas introduced the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act to revoke visas for ICC officials investigating or prosecuting US officials or allies. Human rights attorney Amal Clooney, among other experts, advised the ICC prosecutor on seeking the arrest warrants. Clooney emphasized her commitment to the rule of law and civilian protection, asserting that the law protecting civilians in conflict applies universally.

US President Joe Biden denounced the ICC prosecutor's application for arrest warrants as "outrageous," affirming unwavering support for Israel's security. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected the ICC's equivalence between Israel and Hamas, warning that the announcement could jeopardize negotiations on a hostage deal and ceasefire. He reiterated the US stance that the ICC lacks jurisdiction over the matter, noting that the ICC prosecutor was scheduled to visit Israel for discussions with the government.

In response to the announcement, Israeli PM Netanyahu condemned the "absurd and false" warrant, stating that it targets not only him and the defence minister but the entire State of Israel. He criticized the ICC for directing the warrant against IDF soldiers fighting against Hamas.

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Tags: ICC, US, Israel, Netanyahu

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