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Report: US senators threaten ICC over Netanyahu arrest warrants

The ICC has reportedly been considering the issuance of an arrest warrant for Netanyahu for his involvement in war crimes during the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza

Update : 07 May 2024, 11:27 PM

In a bold move, a dozen Republican US senators, led by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, have threatened to impose sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC) should it pursue arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or other Israeli leaders.

In a letter reported by Zeteo, an online news portal, the senators conveyed a loud and clear message to the ICC: “Target Israel and we will target you.”

The letter, sent late last month and addressed to ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan, explicitly threatens to impose sanctions on ICC employees and associates, and to ban them and their families from entering the United States.

It also states that any attempt to issue warrants against Israeli leaders would be “illegitimate” and lack legal basis, aligning the ICC with entities they deem hostile to freedom, such as Iran and Hamas.

The senators cited the American Service-Members’ Protection Act (ASPA), enacted in 2002, as a potential tool to counter any ICC actions. This legislation prohibits US cooperation with the ICC with the president being allowed to take measures to prevent Americans or allies from being detained by the court.

The ICC has reportedly been considering the issuance of an arrest warrant for Netanyahu for his involvement in war crimes during the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.

Last Friday, the ICC warned against retaliation threats but did not specify where the threats and intimidation had come from. ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor issued a statement condemning any actions that undermine its independence and impartiality.

“Such threats, even not acted upon, may constitute an offense” against the ICC’s “administration of justice,” it warned, calling for an end to such activity.

While the Biden administration has stated its opposition to an ICC investigation into Israeli war crimes, it has not clarified whether it would pursue sanctions against the court if arrest warrants were issued.

“We’ve been really clear about the ICC investigation. We do not support it,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, echoing the administration’s stance.

Since October 7, vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,789 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

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