newsIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

UK Labour to drop challenge to ICC arrest warrant for Netanyahu

PM Starmer affirms his belief in the Palestinians' "undeniable right to a state."

Keir and Victoria Starmer arrive at a polling station in London to vote in the General Election, July 04, 2024. Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images.
Keir and Victoria Starmer arrive at a polling station in London to vote in the General Election, July 04, 2024. Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images.

The newly-elected Labour government in the United Kingdom is expected to abandon a bid to delay the International Criminal Court‘s ruling on whether to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over alleged war crimes in Gaza, according to a report in The Guardian newspaper.

The previous Conservative government had secretly filed a challenge on June 10, questioning the ICC’s jurisdiction over Israeli nationals concerning alleged war crimes in Gaza. However, Labour officials now say the party believes the ICC, based in The Hague, does have jurisdiction over Gaza.

This reversal could have far-reaching implications for the ICC‘s ongoing investigation, clearing the way for the court to issue arrest warrants. The ICC’s pre-trial chamber had given the U.K. until July 12 to submit its full claim, but sources indicate it is highly unlikely that the new government will proceed with the challenge.

The previous government under Rishi Sunak joined Israel in fighting against the chief prosecutor of the court, Karim Khan, after he submitted an application to have the court issue an arrest warrant for Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over the current Gaza war for alleged war crimes, along with Hamas leaders.

The new Foreign Secretary David Lammy announced plans to review several key issues, including future funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the legal advice given to the previous government regarding arms sales to Israel.

Lammy stated, “We did raise issues about the funding … and did not want the situation where the U.K. was contributing to tremendous hardship already in Gaza.”

Addressing concerns about Labour’s position and its impact on Muslim voter support, he emphasized the party’s commitment to international humanitarian law.

“I have been crystal clear on the international humanitarian law. There will be no resiling from that, because it’s important that we are all seen to uphold the rules-based order at a time particularly when authoritarian states are discarding it,” Lammy said.

Prime Minister Keir Starmer, in a phone call with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, affirmed his belief in the Palestinians’ “undeniable right to a Palestinian state.”

Starmer discussed the “ongoing suffering and devastating loss of life” in Gaza with Abbas, signaling a possible shift in the U.K.’s approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

In a separate call with Netanyahu, Starmer emphasized the “clear and urgent” need for a ceasefire in Gaza. He also stressed the importance of establishing long-term conditions for a two-state solution, including ensuring the P.A. has the necessary financial means to operate effectively.

The foreign secretary also expressed deep concerns about the future governance of Gaza, rejecting the possibility of Hamas playing a role.

“It’s hard to see how an organization that’s not committed to a two-state solution, and is committed to terrorism, can be part of that solution,” Lammy said.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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