Sunday, 23 Jun, 2024
Sunday, 23 Jun, 2024
The Daily Post

Western world worried over ICC arrest warrant

International Desk

Western world worried over ICC arrest warrant

-Norway eager to arrest Israeli leaders

-UK condemns arrest warrants, US hints sanctions

-If they do this to Israel, we're next: US Senator


Leaders of the Western world, namely US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, blasting the International Criminal Court (ICC) after its prosecutor applied for arrest warrants for top Israeli officials.

At the meantime, Norway declared that it is obliged to arrest Israeli leaders. The country’s foreign minister Espen Barth Eide said if arrest warrants are issued against Netanyahu and Gallant on behalf of the Hague Tribunal, they will be obliged to arrest them if they arrive in Norway. A Norwegian online newspaper said Eide confirmed that Netanyahu risks being extradited if he visits Norway.

Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, is seeking warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Israel's ongoing Gaza offensive, which has now killed more than 35,600 Palestinians and wounded nearly 80,000 more. Among the charges laid out by Khan’s team against the Israeli officials are extermination, using starvation as a method of warfare, willfully causing great suffering, and intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population.

In all, Khan has applied for arrest warrants for five people – Netanyahu, Gallant, and Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh and Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, also known as Mohammed Deif. While Israel’s staunch allies like the US and UK criticized the move against Netanyahu and Gallant, countries around the world have come out in support, notably including European nations such as France and Belgium.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has suggested that he will work with lawmakers on potential sanctions against the International Criminal Court as its prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials. Blinken told a congressional hearing he was "committed" to taking action against the "profoundly wrong-headed decision".

His comments come amid a Republican push to impose sanctions on ICC officials, which may see a vote as soon as this week. The United States is not a member of the court but has backed previous prosecutions, including the ICC's arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine. At a Tuesday hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, James Risch, its top Republican, asked whether Mr Blinken would support legislation to address the ICC "sticking its nose in the business of countries that have an independent, legitimate, democratic judicial system".

Besides, US Senator Lindsey Graham raised concern last Tuesday over the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor's application for arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials, saying "if they do this to Israel, we're next.” "Hopefully, together, we will find a way to rest our displeasure with the ICC because if they do this to Israel, we're next," Graham said while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified before a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing.

"At the end of the day here, what I hope to happen is that we level sanctions against the ICC for this outrage to not only help our friends in Israel but protect ourselves over time," Graham added. "I welcome working with you on that," Blinken responded when asked by Graham whether he would support sanctioning the ICC.

Blinken also told lawmakers Tuesday that the State Department will work with Congress to develop an "appropriate response" after ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan filed applications for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. "Sen. Risch, in short, let's look at it. We want to work with you on a bipartisan basis to find an appropriate response. I'm committed to doing that," Blinken said under questioning from Sen. Jim Risch, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's top Republican. "As you say, the devil's in the details, so let's see what you got. And we can take it from there," he added. Blinken's comments mark the strongest signal of a shift within the Biden administration after the White House on April 30 pushed back against threats from US lawmakers to retaliate against the Court's officials, their families and associates if the ICC issues arrest warrants for Israeli officials.

According to CBC news, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said that Canada recognizes the independence of the International Criminal Court, but expressed concerns over the court’s push to prosecute his Israeli counterpart and others. On Monday, the ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan made a request for arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders over the conflict in the Gaza strip, a move supported by three European countries, including key ally France, but something Trudeau called “troubling.”  “What I will say is troubling though is the sense of an equivalency between the democratically elected leaders of Israel and the bloodthirsty terrorists that lead up Hamas,” Trudeau said. “I don’t think that’s helpful.”

Belgium, Slovenia and France each said Monday they backed the decision by ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, who accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defense minister and three Hamas leaders of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip and Israel. While no one faces imminent arrest, the announcement deepens Israel’s global isolation at a time when it is facing growing criticism from even its closest allies over the conflict in Gaza. Support for the warrants from three European Union countries also exposes divisions in the West’s approach to Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz headed to France on Tuesday in response, and his meetings there could set the tone for how countries navigate the warrants — if they are eventually issued — and whether they could pose a threat to Israeli leaders.