Possible ICC warrants for Israeli leaders, how the world aligns

    In a move that has sent shockwaves through the international community, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders. This historical application for arrest warrants against a sitting head of state and a sitting defence minister of a country supported by Western states, including the UK and the US, marks a significant escalation in legal proceedings over the conflict. The move has sparked a fierce reaction from Israel and the White House, with U.S. President Joe Biden calling the application "outrageous" and emphasising there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

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    The ICC’s action is based on allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity linked to the war in Gaza, with the ICC prosecutor Karim Khan highlighting “reasonable grounds to believe” that these leaders bear criminal responsibility for murder, extermination, and taking hostages, among numerous other crimes. The application for arrest warrants also includes the leaders of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri (Deif), and Ismail Haniyeh, for their alleged role in the October 7 attacks and the subsequent war.

    Western views on the issue are divided

    Some call for accountability for leaders on both sides. They believe that the ICC’s request reflects a commitment to justice and the rule of law. Others denounce the ICC’s actions as equating the victim with the executioner. They argue that the Israeli response to the October 7 attacks was a legitimate act of self-defence. The complexity and deep divisions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are reflected in these contrasting perspectives.

    The ICC’s move has practical and symbolic implications. If the judges at the International Criminal Court consider the requests for the warrants justified and decide to issue them, it could mean that if any of the five men travel to one of more than 120 countries that are party to the Rome Statute, they could be arrested and shipped for trial at The Hague. This request underscores the reach of international law and the ICC’s role in addressing alleged war crimes. Even when the parties involved are not directly signatories to the Rome Statute.

    In conclusion, the ICC’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli and Hamas leaders has highlighted the deep divisions within the international community over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of international law in addressing alleged war crimes. This move has significant implications for the leaders involved. And also for the broader discussion on accountability and justice in the context of the conflict in Gaza.

    France backs ICC on arrest warrants

    France backs the International Criminal Court and the “fight against impunity”, its foreign ministry said. The announcement came after the ICC requested arrest warrants for Israeli PM Netanyahu and Hamas leaders for alleged war crimes.

    Should such warrants be issued, member states of the court could be put in a diplomatically difficult position. Nearly all countries of the European Union are members of ICC.

    “France supports the International Criminal Court, its independence and the fight against impunity in all situations.” The French foreign ministry said in a statement late on Monday.

    While U.S. President Joe Biden called the legal step against Israeli officials “outrageous”, the French foreign ministry took a different stance.

    Experts including Amal Clooney back warrants

    A panel of independent experts including human rights lawyer Amal Clooney backed the ICC prosecutor’s decision to request arrest warrants. They described the warrants over the Gaza war as “a historic step for victims” of the conflict.

    Clooney and five other experts, including two former judges at criminal tribunals in The Hague, said they had been convened at Khan’s request in January to assess the material he provided them with and to offer legal advice.

    In a report dated May 20, they said they had carried out “an extensive process of review and analysis”, including witness statements and authenticated videos and photographs obtained by ICC investigators.

    The panel said it was “satisfied that the process was fair, rigorous and independent and that the Prosecutor’s applications for arrest warrants are grounded in the law and the facts.”

    “The prosecutor has taken a historic step to ensure justice for the victims in Israel and Palestine by issuing applications for five arrest warrants alleging war crimes and crimes against humanity by senior Hamas and Israeli leaders,” the panel wrote in the Financial Times.

    UK says ICC arrest request for Israel’s Netanyahu is unhelpful

    The ICC decision to request a warrant for Netanyahu is unhelpful, a spokesperson for British PM Sunak said on Monday.

    “This action isn’t helpful in relation to reaching a pause in the fighting, getting hostages out or getting aid in.” The spokesperson said, referring to the decision made by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

    The spokesperson said that the ICC did not have the jurisdiction to request the arrest warrants.

    “The UK, as with other countries, does not yet recognise Palestine as a state and Israel is not a state party to the Rome Statute”, which outlines the ICC’s areas of jurisdiction, the spokesperson said.

    Asked if the police would arrest Netanyahu if he came to Britain, the spokesperson said he would not comment on what he called “hypotheticals”.

    The British deputy foreign minister Andrew Mitchell later told parliament that the ICC’s decision would not have an immediate impact on the government’s approval of licences so companies can sell weapons to Israel.

    “The fact that the prosecutor has applied for arrest warrants to be issued does not directly impact, for example, on UK licensing decisions but we will continue to monitor developments,” Mitchell said.

    Blinken says he’ll work with US Congress on potential ICC sanctions

    The Biden administration is willing to work with Congress to potentially impose sanctions against International Criminal Court officials over the prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants for Israeli leaders over the Gaza war, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

    At a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Blinken he wanted to see renewed U.S. sanctions on the court in response to the move announced by ICC prosecutor Karim Khan on Monday.

    “I want to take actions, not just words,” Graham said to Blinken. “Will you support bipartisan effort to sanction the ICC, not only for the outrage against Israel but to protect in the future our own interest?”

    “I welcome working with you on that,” Blinken responded.


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