© Sputnik / Ted RallUS v. ICC
US v. ICC - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.05.2024
Previously, Netanyahu and Biden denounced the charges as “outrageous”, with the Israeli prime minister calling it antisemitic.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that US President Joe Biden's administration would be willing to work with Congress on a way to impose sanctions against officials belonging to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The move comes after Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the ICC announced his intention to seek arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Yehiya Sinwar for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Some US politicians, including US Joe Biden and his political rivals, have criticized the ICC for their decision and have claimed that the court does not have jurisdiction over the Gaza conflict nor the US. On Tuesday, US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reportedly told Blinken that he wants to go beyond words and “take action”.
“Will you support [a] bipartisan effort to sanction the ICC, not only for the outrage against Israel but to protect, in the future, our own interest?” Graham asked Blinken during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday.
Blinken responded to Graham’s request saying, “I welcome working with you on that.” In a video of the hearing, protesters could be seen in the audience raising their hands which they had painted red.
Earlier this month - prior to the ICC announcing their request for a warrant - a group of US Republican lawmakers had released an open and signed letter threatening officials of the court. In their letter to ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan, US lawmakers said “target Israel and we will target you”, adding that they would “sanction your employees and associates, and bar you and your families from the US."
A dozen Republican senators sent a written threat to the International Criminal Court warning them not to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Which is itself illegal under international law. - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.05.2024
Lawmakers or War-Mongering Bullies?
The US lawmakers indirectly threatened to invoke the American Service-Members’ Protection Act (ASPA) in response to any arrest warrants. The act was signed into law in 2002 as a way for the US to protect itself against any accountability the ICC may seek and allows the US president to prevent Americans and other allies from being detained by the court. The legislation has been condemned by human rights organizations.
While the ICC did not mention the US by name, they shot back at the US lawmakers saying that, “such threats, even when not acted upon, may also constitute an offense against the administration of justice under Art. 70 of the Rome Statute."
Ironically, the US politicians are not members of the ICC but have supported prosecutions by the court in the past, and at one point even urged the court to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin and “his enablers” accountable for aspects of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
And in 2020, the administration under former President Donald Trump accused the ICC of infringing on US national sovereignty when it authorized an investigation into war crimes committed in Afghanistan. The US targeted court staff with asset freezes and travel bans. Shortly after taking office Biden lifted those sanctions which, at the time, Blinken said were "inappropriate and ineffective".
Based on these reports, it appears that the US oscillates between bullying and undermining the ICC depending on whatever benefits their government and its agenda.
The Biden administration has also said that they do not believe Israel is committing “genocide” in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian authorities have reported that over 35,000 Palestinians have been killed since the conflict first broke out in October. A majority of those who have been killed are believed to be women and children. Cindy McCain, the head of the United Nations World Food Program has also warned that Gaza has now entered a “full-blown famine”.
The Biden Administration has announced that it does not formally believe that Israel's actions against Gaza rise yet to the official definition of genocide. - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.05.2024
'Yes', But Also 'No'
In mid-May, Egypt announced that it would seek permission to join South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in which Israel has been accused of violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention. Earlier this year, Colombia and Turkiye also asked to join the case which was brought in January.
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