The United States Refuses to Impose Sanctions on the ICC Over Netanyahu Arrest Warrant

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized on Wednesday the recent announcement by the Biden administration that it would not support imposing sanctions on the International Criminal Court after its chief prosecutor requested the court issue arrest warrants against the Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yoav Galant.

Last week, the United States criticized the decision by ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, stating it would work with Congress to push for a bipartisan response but stopped short of supporting sanctions against the Hague-based court.

Netanyahu said, “Now you say there is a question mark, and frankly, I am surprised and disappointed.”

American Withdrawal

According to the “Times of Israel,” Netanyahu reiterated his statements during his meeting Wednesday with former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, expressing regret over Washington’s decision to “withdraw” its support for imposing sanctions on the ICC.

He added, “I hope this doesn’t happen because it’s important to send a message to the International Criminal Court that free societies will retain the right and ability to defend themselves.”

Last week, the United States opposed ICC prosecutor Karim Khan’s request to issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Galant, as well as Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh, Yahya Sinwar, and Mohammed Deif.

Washington criticized the parity drawn by the court between Israeli leaders and Hamas, stating that the ICC has no authority over this matter because Israel is not a member and has reliable legal systems to address such accusations. The United States was cooperating with Khan when he cut off communication and rushed to announce his decision.

On Tuesday, the White House opposed legislation pushed by Republicans in the House of Representatives to impose sanctions on senior members of the ICC.

A More Difficult Path

According to the Israeli newspaper, while the Republican effort is likely to pass in the House of Representatives, the legislation is expected to face a more difficult path in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Congressional Democrats, including senators, have supported a legislative response to the ICC, yet sanctions seem a step too far for them, with the White House opposing any rollback of President Joe Biden‘s decision to lift the sanctions imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump on the ICC prosecutor.

With the administration opposing the Republican-led sanctions bill, another option is for Congress to pass legislation threatening to impose sanctions on countries that comply with any arrest warrants issued by the court in the case against Israel. Biden could do this unilaterally through an executive order, although the administration has not indicated whether it is currently considering such a path. The legislation would be more binding and could potentially help ease criticism on Capitol Hill.

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