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Israeli NGO calls for federal probe into Amal Clooney’s ICC role

Shurat HaDin has called on the U.S. Attorney General to examine Clooney's role in the ICC prosecutor's decision to seek warrants for senior Israeli officials.

Amal Clooney, a human-rights lawyer and wife of George Clooney, addresses the U.N. Security Council arrived for a meeting on ensuring accountability for atrocities committed in Ukraine in April 2022. Credit: U.N. Photo.
Amal Clooney, a human-rights lawyer and wife of George Clooney, addresses the U.N. Security Council arrived for a meeting on ensuring accountability for atrocities committed in Ukraine in April 2022. Credit: U.N. Photo.

An Israeli NGO has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding a federal probe into Amal Clooney’s involvement in International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan’s decision to seek arrest warrants against top Israeli officials. 

The Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, which takes legal actions on behalf of terror victims, is calling for Garland to determine whether Clooney, a human rights attorney, participated in the ICC’s “investigative actions” against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant from U.S. soil, which would be illegal.

“The ASPA [American Servicemembers’ Protection Act] provides in pertinent part that: No agent of the International Criminal Court may conduct, in the United States of any territory subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, any investigative activity relating to a preliminary inquiry, investigation, prosecution, or other proceeding of the International Criminal Court,” the letter to Garland states. 

“Attorney Amal Clooney participated in an investigative panel in evaluating evidence of suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and Gaza,” it continued. 

“Ms. Clooney has spoken publicly about her involvement with the ICC investigative panel and boasted of her actions to assist the ICC prosecutor in his request for arrest warrants against two Israeli leaders,” the letter adds. 

On the same day that Khan announced he was seeking arrest warrants for Israeli leaders alongside Hamas terrorists, Clooney announced that her research had influenced that decision.

“More than four months ago, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court asked me to assist him with evaluating evidence of suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and Gaza,” Clooney wrote on the website of the Clooney Foundation for Justice.

She and the panel concluded unanimously that the ICC has jurisdiction over Israel and Gaza, and that “there are reasonable grounds” to accuse Netanyahu and Gallant of war crimes and crimes against humanity, “including starvation as a method of warfare, murder, persecution and extermination.”

JNS contacted the Clooney Foundation for Justice for comment.

In their letter, Shurat HaDin states, “As such, we believe Ms. Clooney’s actions are in violation of ASPA’s prohibition on ICC investigation activities within the United States concerning matters involving U.S. interests.”

It also notes reports indicating that actor George Clooney, Amal’s husband, contacted the White House “to express concern about the president’s denunciation of the ICC’s warrants and the administration’s initial openness to sanctions against the court as they could impact his wife.”

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of Shurat HaDin, told JNS that Amal Clooney was one of 10 advisers who persuaded Khan to act.

“The law is very clear and the investigation straightforward,” said Darshan-Leitner. “The authorities must check her passports, emails, phone records, to find out whether she did this while on American soil. If they find out that she did help the ICC while in the United States, they must indict her for breaking the law,” she added. 

According to Darshan-Leitner, if found guilty, Amal Clooney is at risk of imprisonment. 

Netanyahu said last week he believed the ICC would soon approve the prosecutor’s request for warrants, suggesting they could be issued before his planned address to Congress on July 24, according to Ynet.

Based on the court’s previous timelines, the period between a warrant request and the court’s decision is between one to eight months. In the case of Russian President Vladimir Putin it took one month, the report noted.

In requesting the warrants, Khan accused Netanyahu and Gallant of “starvation of civilians,” “willfully causing great suffering,” “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population” and other war crimes.

Israel has stood united against the ICC threat, with politicians of all stripes condemning the court.

The ICC has no jurisdiction in Israel as Jerusalem is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, which established the court. But in a legalistic sleight of hand it claimed jurisdiction by accepting the “State of Palestine” as a signatory in 2015, even though no such state exists.

However, 124 countries are signatories to the Rome Convention. These countries are obligated to act on any arrest warrant the ICC issues, raising the possibility that Netanyahu and Gallant could be placed under arrest while visiting these countries.

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