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Dermer: ICC prosecutor’s move a ‘threat to all democracies’

The ICC will lose its credibility if it pursues arrest warrants against Israeli leaders, said Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer.

Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and Minister of Culture and Sport Miki Zohar arrive t a government conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Jan. 3, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and Minister of Culture and Sport Miki Zohar arrive t a government conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Jan. 3, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer on Tuesday blasted the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s recent move against Israel as a threat to democracies and one which will fuel antisemitism.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan on Monday called for arrest warrants, yet to be approved by the court, against Israel’s prime minister and defense minister, citing “reasonable grounds” that they had committed war crimes.

During an interview on “The Mark Levin Show,” Dermer said the decision was “outrageous and dangerous,” calling Khan a “rogue prosecutor” in what might turn out to be a “kangaroo court.”

It’s outrageous because it draws a “false equivalence” between the genocidal terrorist organization Hamas and the democratically elected leaders of Israel, he said. (Khan called for arrest warrants against Hamas and Israeli leaders in the same announcement.)

The charges themselves are also outrageous, Dermer said, noting one accuses Israel of engaging in the “starvation of civilians.”

“It’s utter libel,” said Dermer. “This is absurd.”

Israel has delivered some 400,000 tons of food to Gaza, where it has also paved roads to facilitate its distribution, even while being fired upon by Hamas.

Allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza is not a popular decision among Israelis, Dermer noted. They question why Israel is doing so before their hostages are returned. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an early determination to fight as Israel always fights, and avoid civilian casualties, he added.

Israel has gone to greater lengths than any other army in the history of urban warfare “to get civilians out of harm’s way,” Dermer insisted, citing U.S. Gen. (ret.) David Petraeus, and John Spencer of West Point’s Modern War Institute, who reached similar conclusions.

Israel evacuated 950,000 people from Rafah before carrying out its operations there, Dermer said, describing an elaborate system whereby Israel takes into account proportionality, separates combatants from civilians and warns civilians with phone calls and leaflets when targeting an area.

The ICC prosecutor’s move is not just dangerous to Israel, Dermer noted, but to all democracies fighting terrorism. Terrorists see that they won’t be held responsible for hiding behind civilian populations and using them as human shields, but rather those fighting them, he explained. Other democracies may also find themselves put on the docket by the ICC.

“So this will start with Israel, but it will not end with Israel,” Dermer said, noting that the ICC had in the past considered charging U.S. soldiers for war crimes in Afghanistan.

“It’s Israel first and America is going to be next,” he said. “That’s why there has to be a very strong stance against this.”

He expressed hope that the U.S. Congress would take action and that President Joe Biden will throw his support behind those efforts. Congress has passed legislation against the ICC under former President George W. Bush, and former President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order sanctioning ICC officials. Biden, however, revoked that order early in his term.

Dermer also said ICC arrest warrants would “fuel antisemitism around the world,” pointing to the Jew hatred already seen emanating from anti-Israel encampments on U.S. college campuses this spring.

“This prosecutor is now pouring fuel on this fire. People think, ‘You know, ICC, it’s a legitimate institution, right. It’s an International Criminal Court. There must be some basis to this,'” he said.

People who hate Israel and Jews will feel the “wind in their sails” to continue their antisemitic actions, he noted.

Dermer warned that the ICC risks seeing its credibility go down the drain, pointing to the U.N. General Assembly, which lost its credibility in 1975 when it declared Zionism is a form of racism, and the U.N. Human Rights Council, which focuses obsessively on Israel virtually to the exclusion of all else.

“When you target the one and only Jewish state, [when] you single it out and you treat it differently than any other nation in the world, there’s a word for that,” Dermer said. “It’s called antisemitism, and antisemitism is back.”

Dermer ended on a defiant note. Echoing the words of Netanyahu, he said Israel will defeat Hamas no matter the pressure.

“We’re going to do whatever we have to do to protect our people. And the war that we are waging will be prosecuted until the war is won. For our sake, for your sake and for civilization’s sake,” he said.

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