International Criminal Court to lose many of its members. US will lose Middle East

Who urged ICC to issue arrest warrant for Netanyahu?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has yet to issue an arrest warrant for Israel's leadership, but the pressure on the court is mounting already. The ICC risks losing its credibility, while the US risks losing what remains of its influence in the Middle East.

ICC under pressure from 'one big leader'

Karim Khan, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, announced that he sent a request to judges to arrest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as two members of the Hamas leadership "for war crimes and crimes against humanity".

Khan emphasised that his decision was prompted, among other things, by the just claims from several member states of the Rome Statute.

"I've had some elected leaders speak to me and they were very blunt. 'This court is built for Africa and for thugs like Putin,' was what one senior leader told me. We don't do it like that," Khan said in an interview with CNN.

If we brush aside the propaganda hue of the above statement that once again speaks of the prosecutor's "impartiality", we may suggest that the conversation could be as follows:

"You need to take action against Netanyahu as you did against Putin, or we are pulling out from the ICC otherwise."

The court's decision is not in yet, but Israel and the US have been increasing their pressure on it already.

Netanyahu accused the ICC of a wave of "new anti-Semitism." The Israeli prime minister said that the ICC would not prevent Israel from achieving total victory and destroying Hamas completely.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken noted that the ICC ruling could hurt US efforts to end the war. According to State Department officials, the ICC's jurisdiction extends to cases where it is recognised by at least one of the parties to the conflict. Neither Israel nor Palestine recognise the jurisdiction of this court. Russia does not recognise it either, but Ukraine does. Therefore, the State Department says, it is only Russia that can be prosecuted.

Should the ICC issue the arrest warrant, Israel's allies — members of the Rome Statute — will be obliged to detain Netanyahu and Gallant, if they find themselves on the territory of those states. This applies to most countries in Europe.

EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said that he took note of the ICC prosecutor's decision. Everyone would be obliged to honour ICC decision to arrest Netanyahu. France issued a similar statement.

ICC will lose members, US will lose the Middle East

The US will do everything to ensure that the court's judgement does not materialise.

US Congress may impose sanctions on ICC members if they issue an arrest warrant for Netanyahu, House Speaker Mike Johnson threatened.

In March 2020, after the ICC authorised an investigation into US war crimes in Afghanistan, Washington cancelled the visa of the court's chief Fatou Bensouda and imposed economic sanctions against her and other judges. The ICC was accused of Russia-commissioned biased investigations. The court dropped the investigation immediately.

Today, the situation is more complicated. If the warrants are not issued, all parties to the Rome Statute will once again be convinced of the bias and double standards. The role of the US as the world's gendarme will be exposed to the public. The scandal will not help Washington retain any vestiges of influence on the overall situation in the Middle East.

One can't help but say "thank you" to "one big leader" for calling for justice at the ICC. One is only left to wonder who that leader is exactly.

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Author`s name Lyuba Lulko
Editor Dmitry Sudakov