US votes to punish ICC over Netanyahu arrest warrant

  • Post last modified:June 5, 2024
  • Reading time:4 mins read

On 4 June, the US house of representatives passed legislation that would sanction the International Criminal Court (ICC) for applying international law to the US and its allies – namely, Israel.

The US laying cover for Israel – again

With the help of 42 democrats, the Republican-controlled house voted by 247 to 155 in favour of the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act.

The act would place visa restrictions and sanctions on any foreign individual funding or working for ICC prosecutions against Israel, the US or any US ally that isn’t signed up to the court.

On 20 May, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan announced he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Yoav Gallant.

This is the first time the ICC, which was established in 2002, has sought to arrest leaders of a close Western ally.

The Israeli war crimes include the collective punishment of Palestinian people. That’s through using starvation as a weapon and intentionally targeting the civilian population.

President Joe Biden opposes the sanctions. But he has branded the court “outrageous” for seeking the warrants for Israeli leaders.

The campaign to derail the ICC

Reports suggest that Biden may prefer to try and stop the ICC privately. An investigation shows the US put Khan under “tremendous pressure” in an attempt to prevent the warrants.

The investigation, by the Guardian, +972 Magazine, and Local Call, exposes Israel’s nine year intelligence operations against the ICC.

Israel has been conducting the campaign since Palestine, recognised as a UN observer state in 2012, joined the ICC in 2015.

Israel engaged its intelligence agencies to “surveil, hack, pressure, smear and allegedly threaten senior ICC staff in an effort to derail the court’s inquiries”.

Such activity is illegal: International law prohibits intimidation, threats or “corruptly influencing” the ICC.

In August 2022, Israeli forces raided the offices of six human rights organisations in Palestinian territory – the occupied West Bank. These groups were engaged in advancing the ICC investigation.

When it comes to the Republican-led sanctions, the US legislation is unlikely to pass the senate. But it demonstrates the extent to which the US does not respect international law.

Instead of taking measures against Israel for war crimes, the US is working against the ICC for upholding international law.

Neither the US, Israel or its allies should be able to use unlawful violence with impunity. That’s why the ICC arrest warrants are so important.

Featured image via Forbes Breaking News – YouTube

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