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Biden slams ‘outrageous’ ICC arrest bid for Israeli leaders

Biden urges Netanyahu to reach 'immediate ceasefire' in Gaza: White House
Source: Video Screenshot

US President Joe Biden on Monday condemned an “outrageous” request by the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor for an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As Washington moved to defend its key ally, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that the Hague-based court’s move could harm ceasefire talks to end the Gaza conflict.

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as top Hamas leaders, on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous” Biden said in a statement.

“And let me be clear: Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.”

He added that the United States “will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

Neither the United States nor Israel is a member of the ICC, which was set up in 2002 as a court of last resort for the world’s worst crimes.

Asked whether Biden backed ICC arrest warrants for Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, and political chief Ismail Haniyeh, White House spokesman John Kirby said “we don’t believe the ICC has jurisdiction in this matter.”

Biden’s expression of support for Netanyahu over the ICC bid comes despite recent tensions over Israel’s war in Gaza in response to Hamas’s October 7 attack.

Washington recently withheld a shipment of bombs to Israel in a bid to it warn off an offensive in the southern city of Rafah.

 

– ‘Shameful’ –

 

Blinken said the United States “fundamentally rejects” the ICC prosecutor’s arrest bid.

“We reject the prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas. It is shameful,” Blinken said.

Blinken added that “this decision does nothing to help, and could jeopardize, ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement that would get hostages out and surge humanitarian assistance in.”

US lawmakers were reportedly considering a legislative response punishing the ICC, amid bipartisan fury among Republicans and Democrats.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson slammed the court’s “baseless and illegitimate” decision.

He accused Biden of a “pressure campaign” against Israel, saying the country was “fighting a just war for survival.”

Biden faces political pressure on both sides ahead of a November election clash with Donald Trump, with pro-Gaza student protests roiling US campuses while Republicans accuse him of failing to fully back Israel.

The White House has previously refused to comment on whether the US could take retaliatory action including sanctions against the ICC if it targeted Israel.

In 2020, the administration of then-president Donald Trump targeted the ICC with sanctions over its investigation into Afghanistan, but the Biden administration later lifted them.

However Washington’s ambiguous position over the court is reflected by the fact that it has backed the ICC’s attempt to prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday that the United States will keep assisting the ICC on its investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine despite denouncing the Israel move.

“Regarding the question of whether or not we will continue to provide support to the ICC with respect to crimes that are committed in Ukraine, yes, we continue that work,” Austin told reporters.

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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