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Will ICC Step Out of US Shadow With Warrant for Netanyahu, Hamas Leaders?

© Wikipedia / Vincent van ZeijstInternational Criminal Court in Hague
International Criminal Court in Hague - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.05.2024
In a landmark move, ICC Attorney General Karim Khan has requested the issuance of an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, alongside Hamas leaders, on charges related to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, thus sparking debate on ICC current status.
The ICC's decision marks a significant departure from its historical alignment with US policies, raising questions about the motivations behind this sudden shift. Christopher C. Black, a seasoned international criminal lawyer, noted that while the ICC has long been perceived as following Washington's lead, Khan's recent actions indicate a complex interplay of political and moral pressures from multiple countries.
Black highlighted that the ICC had previously acknowledged potential war crimes by Israel during the 2014 Gaza conflict but had hesitated to file charges. The actions against Russian President Vladimir Putin at NATO's behest contrasted sharply with the delayed proceedings against Israel. This disparity underscores the ICC's perceived political inclinations.
FILE- In this Nov. 7, 2019 file photo, the International Criminal Court, or ICC, is seen in The Hague, Netherlands. President Donald Trump has lobbed a broadside attack against the International Criminal Court. He's authorizing economic sanctions and travel restrictions against court workers directly involved in investigating American troops and intelligence officials for possible war crimes in Afghanistan without U.S. consent. The executive order Trump signed on Thursday marks his administration’s latest attack against international organizations, treaties and agreements that do not hew to its policies. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.05.2024
ICC Move Against Israeli Leadership Heralds Decline of US Influence in 'International Institutions'

Foreseeable Yet Controversial

Black argued that Khan's decision was foreseeable given the mounting global pressure and the International Court of Justice's suggestion of possible genocide. However, he criticized the timing and scope of the charges. Khan's focus on the siege of Gaza and the denial of essential supplies, while significant, omits the broader context of aerial assaults and the overarching crime of aggression, according to Black. He also condemned the parallel charges against Hamas leaders, viewing them as politically motivated and potentially detrimental to ongoing peace negotiations.
The inclusion of high-profile experts like Amal Clooney and Baroness Kennedy, both with connections to Western political agendas, adds another layer of complexity to the decision.
"Why Khan buckled finally vis a vis Israel is a question. The answer may be found in the "experts" so-called he called on to support him. The most important, Amal Clooney and Baroness Kennedy are assets of the British...But we may never know all the political shadow play that has gone on to produce this drama," said Black.

US Response: Predictable Hypocrisy?

The US reaction, characterized by strong condemnation and threats of sanctions, was deemed predictable by both Black and Professor Alfred de Zayas, a former UN Independent Expert International Order. Black criticized the US for its hypocritical stance—denouncing charges against Israel while leveraging the ICC against Putin. He suggested that President Biden's administration might be using the charges to appease domestic critics of his support for Israel's actions in Gaza.
Exterior view of the International Criminal Court, or ICC, in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 30, 2024 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.05.2024
US Disregards ICC's Authority on Arrest Warrant Against Netanyahu
De Zayas, on the other hand, welcomed the ICC's move as a step towards restoring its credibility. He emphasized the need for accountability for all involved in the conflict.
"The credibility of the International Criminal Court improves by virtue of Karim Khan's request for the issuance of arrest warrants against both Israeli and Hamas leaders," he stated.

Implications for ICC and Global Politics

While some view the ICC's actions as a sign of declining US influence within the court, Black disagreed, asserting that the ICC remains under significant political control by the EU, UK, and US He maintained that despite internal disagreements, the court's decisions are ultimately shaped by these powers.

De Zayas's perspective suggests a potential shift towards a more balanced approach, holding both Israeli and Hamas leaders accountable. However, he also underscored the importance of addressing the complicity of Western politicians in the broader context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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