Biden slams ICC’s ‘scandalous’ attempt to arrest Israeli leaders

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken separately warned that efforts to secure a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza could be undermined by the Hague-based court’s decision.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant, as well as senior Hamas leaders, on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“The ICC prosecutor’s request for an arrest warrant against Israeli leaders is scandalous. And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor may imply, there is no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas,” Biden said in a statement.

“We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security. »

Neither the United States nor Israel is a member of the ICC and both have rejected its jurisdiction.

Biden did not comment on requests for arrest warrants against the leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, and the movement’s political leader, Ismail Haniyeh.

Biden’s expression of support for Netanyahu over the ICC nomination comes despite recent disagreements with Israel over its conduct in the Gaza war.

Washington recently withheld an arms shipment to Israel in a bid to prevent an offensive in the southern city of Rafah.

Top diplomat Blinken denounced ICC request as ‘shameful’ and warned it could harm ongoing efforts for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas after the group’s attack activist against Israel on October 7.

“The United States fundamentally rejects today’s announcement by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,” Blinken said in a statement.

“We reject the equivalence made by the prosecutor between Israel and Hamas. It is shameful. »

– Ceasefire warning –

Blinken added that “this decision does nothing to help, and could undermine ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement that would allow hostages to be released and humanitarian aid to be increased.”

US lawmakers are reportedly considering a legislative response to the move, sparking bipartisan fury among Republicans and Democrats.

The White House has previously declined to say whether the Biden administration might take retaliatory measures, including sanctions against the ICC if it targets Israel.

US Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on May 3 that she would not say “what the next step might be and whether we would intervene if they were to move forward” with the charges.

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on the ICC over its Afghanistan investigation, but the Biden administration later lifted them.

Washington’s ambiguous position toward the Court is reflected in its support for the ICC’s attempt to prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday that the United States would continue to assist the ICC in its investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine, despite denunciation of the Israeli decision.

“In terms of whether or not we will continue to provide support to the ICC regarding crimes committed in Ukraine, yes, we are continuing that work,” Austin told reporters.

AFP