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Netanyahu asks Biden for help against possible ICC arrest warrants for Israeli officials

House Speaker Johnson slams ‘lawless’ plans, prepares countersanctions

The ICC building at the Hague (Photo source: Wikimedia Commons).

Amid an ongoing effort by Israel to fend off possible arrest warrants against Israeli leaders by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked U.S. President Joe Biden for assistance during a phone call on Sunday, the Axios news outlet reported.

Israel is increasingly concerned that the ICC could soon issue warrants against Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi as part of an ongoing investigation of Israel’s conduct during the Gaza War.

The ICC’s reported plans caused outrage among U.S. lawmakers, with House Speaker Mike Johnson calling them “disgraceful,” “baseless and illegitimate.”

“Such a lawless action by the ICC would directly undermine US national security interests. If unchallenged by the Biden administration, the ICC could create and assume unprecedented power to issue arrest warrants against American political leaders, American diplomats, and American military personnel, thereby endangering our country’s sovereign authority,” Johnson added.

Congress members from both sides of the aisle have threatened that the U.S. would retaliate if the court issued arrest warrants, Axios reported.

According to the report, this would take the form of sanctions against ICC officials. Bills to that effect are already being prepared, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul told Axios. “We hope it doesn’t come to that,” McCaul added.

Israel’s National Security Council is leading the Israeli effort to combat those plans, in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, the Times of Israel reported.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Israel “expects the court to refrain” from issuing arrest warrants.

“There is nothing more twisted than trying to prevent Israel from defending itself against a murderous enemy that openly calls for the destruction of Israel,” said Katz.

"If the court in The Hague takes this scandalous decision to accuse Israel of war crimes, it will ignite a wave of anti-Semitism around the world, and this could thwart an agreement to return the hostages," an Israeli official told Channel 13 News.

"The citizens of Israel reject the attempt to harm the IDF and Israel's right to defend itself outright. The absurd legal proceedings will not harm the determination to achieve the goals of the war," he added.

The US at the moment isn’t certain the ICC will in fact issue the warrants but U.S. officials told Axios that the ICC prosecutor’s office is being pressured by several left-wing NGOs and some ICC member states to do so.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council told Axios: “As we have publicly said many times, the ICC has no jurisdiction in this situation and we do not support its investigation.”

Last week, Netanyahu said, “Israel will never accept any attempt by the ICC to undermine its inherent right of self-defense."

While both Israel and the U.S. are not signatories to the court’s founding Rome Statute and do not recognize its jurisdiction, the Palestinian Authority was admitted in 2015.

The court in 2021 determined it had jurisdiction in the area of Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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