update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Report: ICC mulling Israeli arrest warrants with US consent

Senior officials associated with the tribunal in The Hague said that the Americans had green-lit the move.

The International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
The International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague would not be considering issuing arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials without the approval of the United States, according to a Channel 12 report on Tuesday, citing senior sources associated with the ICC.

“The sources at The Hague said that it is impossible that the chief prosecutor would have decided on such a dramatic step, in a war that is still ongoing, with very little evidence, if he had not at least had a ‘green light’ from the Americans. If this is true, this is another and unprecedented low in relations between Israel and the U.S., at a very sensitive time, on the eve of the ground entry to Rafah,” wrote Israeli journalist Amit Segal.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan has served in his position since Feb. 12, 2021, when he was elected with American support. The Channel 12 article notes that since then, he has closed two cases that “greatly troubled the Americans”—on undeclared detention related to Afghanistan in Europe and to war crimes allegedly committed in Afghanistan.

Channel 12 reported last week about Israeli concerns that high-ranking officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, could be subject to arrest warrants over the prosecution of the war against Hamas in Gaza.

According to the report, an emergency meeting was held at Netanyahu’s office on April 16 in the presence of Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Foreign Minister Israel Katz.

The four decided to take “urgent action with international authorities” to prevent the arrest of Israelis abroad, according to the report.

The Palestinian Authority has already declared its acceptance of the jurisdiction of the ICC over alleged crimes committed by Israel. However, Israel does not recognize ICC jurisdiction regarding its conflict with the Palestinians.

The United States has also voiced strong objections to the Palestinians joining the ICC, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously expressing “serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”

South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has said that the ICC should have already issued an arrest warrant for Netanyahu “for war crimes committed against Palestinians in Gaza.”

Following a visit to southern Israel in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks, Khan said that the massacre of more than 1,200 people represented “some of the most serious international crimes that shock the conscience of humanity.”

Commenting on Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip since the terrorist attacks and the kidnapping of more than 250 people, Khan noted that the Israel Defense Forces “has trained lawyers who advise commanders and a robust system intended to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.”

The prosecutor noted that “conflict in densely populated areas where fighters are alleged to be unlawfully embedded in the civilian population is inherently complex, but international humanitarian law must still apply and the Israeli military knows the law that must be applied.”

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