Biden Condemns ‘Outrageous’ ICC Request to Arrest Israeli Leaders

Tue May 21 2024
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WASHINGTON, United States: US President Joe Biden on Monday condemned an “outrageous” request by an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As Washington scrambled to defend its key ally, Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken warned that the Hague-based court’s move could damage ceasefire talks to end the Gaza conflict.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as top Hamas officials, on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In a statement, Biden said, “The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous”.

“And let me be clear: Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.”

Biden further said that the US “will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

Neither the United States nor Israel are members of the ICC, which was established in 2002 as a court of last resort for the world’s worst crimes.

Asked whether Biden supported the ICC’s arrest warrants for Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar and political chief Ismail Haniyeh, White House spokesman John Kirby said “we don’t believe the ICC has jurisdiction over this matter.”

Biden’s statement of support for Netanyahu on the ICC bid comes despite recent tensions surrounding Israel’s war on Gaza in response to the October 7 attack by Hamas.


The United States “fundamentally rejects” the ICC prosecutor’s request for arrest, Blinken said.

“We reject the prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas. It is shameful,” Blinken added.

He further said that “this decision does nothing to help and could jeopardize ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement that would get the hostages out and get humanitarian aid flowing”.

US lawmakers were reportedly considering a legislative response to punish the ICC, amid bipartisan fury between Republicans and Democrats.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson criticized the court’s “baseless and illegitimate” decision.

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He accused Biden of a “pressure campaign” against Israel and said the country was “fighting a just war for survival.”

Biden is facing political pressure from both sides of the aisle ahead of a November election showdown with Donald Trump, as student protests over Gaza roil US campuses while Republicans accuse him of not fully supporting Israel.

The White House has previously declined to comment on whether the US could take retaliatory measures, including sanctions, against the ICC if Israel is targeted.

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump’s administration hit the ICC with sanctions over the Afghanistan investigation, but the Biden administration later lifted them.

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