Congress May Take Action Against the ICC in Warrants Case

( – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has caught a lot of flak for his actions in Gaza. He has been steadfast in his quest to eliminate the militant group Hamas, once and for all. However, his methods have drawn scrutiny, not just from the West, but from around the world. The International Criminal Court (ICC) recently got involved and that may prompt US action.

The Warrants

On Monday, May 20, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan issued a statement saying he was seeking arrest warrants for five people. This included Netanyahu as well as his Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant. The other three were Hamas leaders: Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri (Deif), Yahya Sinwar, and Ismail Haniyeh. All five are accused of various war crimes.

Netanyahu and Gallant are accused of starving civilians, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury, intentionally attacking civilian populations, extermination, and persecution. The three Hamas leaders are accused of extermination, murder, taking hostages, perpetrating sexual violence, torture, cruel treatment, and outrages upon personal dignity.

Khan emphasized in his statement that he “could not have been clearer” in his words “that international humanitarian law demands that Israel take urgent action to immediately allow access to humanitarian aid in Gaza,” something he contends the country has yet to do.

Netanyahu publicly condemned the prosecutor. The United States is seemingly unhappy about the decision, too. Biden was adamant that there is “no equivalence” between Hamas and Israel.

US Gets Involved

The day after Khan’s statement that he was seeking arrest warrants, Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated that the federal government was ready to support bipartisan action against him. The US is accusing Khan of reneging on his commitment to the US, in which he promised to engage with the Israeli government first, before deciding whether to pursue arrest warrants.

Blinken called Khan’s actions “wrong-headed,” and it would not have the effect he desired. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) went so far as to threaten sanctions, something that the government seems to be on board with. He said that “Congress is reviewing all options … to punish the ICC and ensure its leadership faces consequences if they proceed.” However, despite Blinken’s support, Johnson also pointed the finger at the Biden Administration, claiming it helped advance prosecutorial efforts.

It’s not just Republicans upset with the ICC move, either. Democrats such as Reps. Kathy Manning (NC), Ritchie Torres (NY), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) have all expressed their displeasure.

The arrest warrants, if they are issued, are largely symbolic. Neither Israel nor the United States are members of the ICC.

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