Biden Rejects ICC Arrest Warrants against Israeli Leaders

Washington, MIAN – The US President Joe Biden strongly rejected Monday the decision by International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan to seek arrest warrants for a pair of senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Anadolu Agency reports.

Biden said the decision is “outrageous,” and pledged to stand with Israel as the process plays out. He further decried what he called Khan’s “equivalence” between Israel and Hamas, three leaders of which were included in Khan’s application for arrest warrants, as was Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

“Let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security,” the president said in a statement.

Khan, the ICC prosecutor, announced earlier Monday that he has applied for arrest warrants against Netanyahu; Gallant; the head of Hamas’ Politburo, Ismail Haniyeh; its top official in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar; and the head of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif. The decision on whether any of the warrants will ultimately be issued lies with a panel of three ICC judges, which will assess the evidence presented by Khan’s office.

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Senior Republicans on Capitol Hill had threatened Khan, his senior officials and associates, and their families with reprisals if the ICC advanced arrest warrants for Israeli officials. The White House has prevously said it was opposed to threats against the court’s officials, but maintained that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over Israel because it is not a signatory to the court’s founding document.

In a separate statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington “fundamentally rejects” Khan’s decision, echoing Biden in rejecting “the Prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas.”

“It is shameful. Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that carried out the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and is still holding dozens of innocent people hostage, including Americans,” the top US diplomat said in a statement.

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“The United States has been clear since well before the current conflict that that ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter. The ICC was established by its state parties as a court of limited jurisdiction. Those limits are rooted in principles of complementarity, which do not appear to have been applied here amid the Prosecutor’s rush to seek these arrest warrants rather than allowing the Israeli legal system a full and timely opportunity to proceed,” he added.

While the Biden administration has rejected the court’s jurisdiction over Israel because it is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, it lauded the ICC’s decision to issue arrest warrants for senior Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. Like Israel, Russia is also a non-signatory to the Rome Statute.

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State Department spokesman Matthew Miller reiterated the US position that the ICC “has no jurisdiction over this matter” because the court “was established by its state parties as a court of limited jurisdiction”.

“These limits are rooted in principles of complementarity, which do not appear to have been applied here amid the prosecutor’s rush to seek these arrest warrants rather than allowing the Israeli legal system a full and timely opportunity for to proceed,” he said.

“In other situations, the prosecutor deferred to national investigations and worked with states to allow them time to investigate. The prosecutor did not afford the same opportunity to Israel in this case, which has ongoing investigations into allegations against its personnel. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)