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US ‘fundamentally rejects’ ICC ‘outrageous’ bid for warrants for Israeli leaders

"We reject the prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas. It is shameful," said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

U.S. President Joe Biden, joined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is briefed on the terrorist assault on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, in the Oval Office of the White House.  Credit: Cameron Smith/White House.
U.S. President Joe Biden, joined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is briefed on the terrorist assault on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, in the Oval Office of the White House. Credit: Cameron Smith/White House.

Hours after an International Criminal Court prosecutor sought arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials alongside Hamas terrorists, and after members of Congress denounced that decision, U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken released statements.

“The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous,” the president said in a very terse statement. “Let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence—none—between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

Washington “fundamentally rejects” the announcement from the international body in The Hague, Blinken wrote in a heftier statement.

“We reject the prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas. It is shameful,” he said. “Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that carried out the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and is still holding dozens of innocent people hostage, including Americans.”

The ICC prosecutor said that he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Blinken stated that Washington “has been clear since well before the current conflict that the ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter.”

“The ICC was established by its state parties as a court of limited jurisdiction. Those limits are rooted in principles of complementarity, which do not appear to have been applied here amid the prosecutor’s rush to seek these arrest warrants rather than allowing the Israeli legal system a full and timely opportunity to proceed,” said the U.S. secretary of state.

“In other situations, the prosecutor deferred to national investigations and worked with states to allow them time to investigate,” Blinken stated. “The prosecutor did not afford the same opportunity to Israel, which has ongoing investigations into allegations against its personnel.”

Blinken also said that there are “deeply troubling process questions.”

“Despite not being a member of the court, Israel was prepared to cooperate with the prosecutor.  In fact, the prosecutor himself was scheduled to visit Israel as early as next week to discuss the investigation and hear from the Israeli government,” Blinken said.

The ICC prosecutor’s staff was scheduled to land in Israel today to coordinate that visit, according to Blinken.

“Israel was informed that they did not board their flight around the same time that the prosecutor went on cable television to announce the charges. These and other circumstances call into question the legitimacy and credibility of this investigation,” the U.S. official said.

“Fundamentally, this decision does nothing to help, and could jeopardize, ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement that would get hostages out and surge humanitarian assistance in, which are the goals the United States continues to pursue relentlessly,” he added.

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