Biden slams ICC’s request to arrest Netanyahu

US president insists Israel and Hamas cannot be compared after ICC seeks warrants over alleged Israeli war crimes…reports Asian Lite News

President Joe Biden has defended Israel against war crimes charges in the world’s top courts.

Biden’s remarks came after Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), said he was seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant over alleged war crimes committed during the war in Gaza.

“Let me be clear, we reject the ICC’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders,” Biden said at a Jewish American Heritage Month event at the White House on Monday, the same day Khan announced he was applying for the arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant, as well as Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes.

“There is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas,” Biden added. Hours earlier, he had issued a strongly-worded statement saying that the ICC warrants were “outrageous”.

Israel is also facing a separate case on alleged genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which was brought by South Africa. Biden said that Israel is not committing genocide in Gaza.

“Contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), what’s happening in Gaza is not genocide. We reject that,” Biden said in his speech.

In January, the ICJ ruled there was a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza, ordering Israel to take a series of provisional measures, including preventing any genocidal acts from taking place.

While Biden’s defence of Israel was met with warm applause at the White House event, his election campaign has been marred by pro-Palestinian protests across the US, with some antiwar advocates labelling the president “Genocide Joe”.

The ICC prosecutor outlined specific charges against Netanyahu and Gallant, including “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare” and “extermination”, although he said his full investigation was ongoing.

Khan also applied for arrest warrants for three Hamas leaders – Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri (also known as Deif) and Ismail Haniyeh – for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including extermination and murder, the taking of captives, torture, rape and other acts of sexual violence.

The charges were supported by evidence prepared by a panel of experts that included international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

In a statement issued on the report prepared by the experts, Clooney wrote, “I do not accept that any conflict should be beyond the reach of the law, nor that any perpetrator should be above the law.”

“My colleagues and I look forward to make sure neither Khan, his associates nor their families will ever set foot again in the United States,” Republican Senator Tom Cotton wrote on X.

The ICC is the world’s first permanent international war crimes court and its 124 member states are obliged to immediately arrest the wanted person if they are on a member state’s territory.

The US is not a member of the ICC and its “biggest leverage” could be to pressure its allies – mostly European nations which are signatories to the ICC – to not act on the warrants, said Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro, reporting from Washington, DC.

Lawmakers seek sanctions to “punish” ICC  

United States lawmakers are contemplating imposing sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) if it issues an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US House Speaker Mike Johnson said.

“In the absence of leadership from the White House, Congress is reviewing all options, including sanctions, to punish the ICC and ensure its leadership faces consequences if they proceed. If the ICC is allowed to threaten Israeli leaders, ours could be next,” the US House Speaker said in a statement on Monday (local time).

He further said “The ICC has no authority over Israel or the United States, and today’s baseless and illegitimate decision should face global condemnation.”

Republican lawmakers on Monday called for the United States to impose sanctions on the ICC.

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik told the New York Post that “The ICC is an illegitimate court that equivocates a peaceful nation protecting its right to exist with radical terror groups that commit genocide”. Stefanik met with Netanyahu on Monday morning as the warrants were announced.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in a statement called the warrants “shameful and unserious.”

Earlier this month, Representative Texas introduced the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act to revoke visas for ICC officials who investigate or prosecute US officials or American allies.

Meanwhile, human rights attorney Amal Clooney is among the experts who advised the ICC prosecutor to seek the arrest warrants.

The wife of actor George Clooney in a statement said explained how she had found herself advising ICC chief prosecutor Khan.

“I served on this panel because I believe in the rule of law and the need to protect civilian lives. The law that protects civilians in war was developed more than 100 years ago and it applies in every country in the world regardless of the reasons for a conflict,” Clooney said in the statement shared on the shared on the Clooney Foundation for Justice website.

ALSO READ: No Genocide in Gaza, Repeats Biden

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