update deskU.S. News

House passes bill that sanctions those who help ICC pursue Israeli officials

“Absent decisive leadership at the White House, Congress must stand in the breach defending our allies and our sovereignty,” said Rep. Chip Roy, of Texas.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2021. Credit: oliverdelahaye/Shutterstock.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2021. Credit: oliverdelahaye/Shutterstock.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 247 to 155 on Tuesday to pass H.R. 8282, the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act. Two Republicans voted “present” and 42 Democrats voted with Republicans for the bill.

AIPAC stated that the bill responds to the “morally bankrupt and legally baseless attack against Israel” leveled by Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, a United Nations agency located in The Hague. 

Khan announced that he was seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as for Hamas leaders.

“The ICC’s attack on Israel is a dangerous precedent that could be used in future efforts against America,” AIPAC said, lauding the bill’s passage in the House. “Since the court’s establishment, Democratic and Republican presidents have chosen not to join the ICC as they feared politically motivated trials that could impact our citizens and soldiers. This case affirms that decision.”

AIPAC “urges the Senate to adopt this important legislation,” it added.

The bill, which Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) introduced, calls the ICC’s actions against the Jewish state “illegitimate and baseless,” requires the U.S. president to sanction those who assist the ICC in its investigation, arrest, detention or prosecution of “a protected person” and sanctions and imposes visa bans on such people and their families, according to AIPAC.

The U.S. president could waive such sanctions “on a case-by-case basis” when such exceptions are “determined to be vital to the national security interests of the United States,” AIPAC added.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) called the ICC’s actions “outrageous” and “unconscionable” in a press conference on Tuesday morning prior to the vote.

“The ICC has to be punished for this action,” he said. “We cannot allow this to stand. If the ICC was allowed to do this and go after the leaders of countries whose actions they disagree with, why would they not come after America?”

“The ICC chose the wrong side of history when they issued a warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli defense officials,” wrote Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), chair of the House Republican Conference, after the bill passed.

“These corrupt bureaucrats will be held accountable for punishing our greatest ally Israel in her hour of need,” Stefanik added.

Roy, who introduced the bill, stated that its passage “sends a strong message to the ICC that we will not tolerate their outrageous attacks on Israel.”

“But let’s be clear. This isn’t just about Israel. This is about ensuring that our nation’s sovereignty is protected, as well as our servicemembers,” he said. “Absent decisive leadership at the White House, Congress must stand in the breach defending our allies and our sovereignty.”

Earlier in the day, Matthew Miller, the U.S. State Department spokesman, was asked if Foggy Bottom supported the bill.

“We have made clear that while we oppose the decision taken by the prosecutor of the ICC—we don’t think it was appropriate, especially while there are ongoing investigations inside Israel looking at some of these very same questions—and we are willing to work with Congress on what a response might look like, we don’t support sanctions,” he said.

Miller was asked what that response would look like if it didn’t involve sanctions.

“So that is a consultation that we will have with Congress. I’m not going to preview it from here,” Miller said. “Those are discussions we need to have with members of Congress. But our position as the administration is that we don’t support sanctions, don’t believe they’re appropriate at this time.”

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