Biden: ICC Prosecutor’s Move to Arrest Israeli Officials ‘Outrageous’

Washington will always support West Jerusalem, the US president said

The International Criminal Court lacks jurisdiction over Israel and should not consider it in the same way as Hamas, the White House and the State Department both said Monday.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant – as well as Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh – of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” in Gaza and Israel.

“The ICC prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is unacceptable,” US President Joe Biden said in a written . “Be clear: there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.  We will always stand with Israel against any threats to its security.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also responded to the ICC announcement, saying that the US “fundamentally rejects” its “shameful” attempt to equate Israel with Hamas, which he called a “brutal terrorist organization that carried out the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.”

The ICC “has no jurisdiction over this matter,” Blinken insisted, noting that the court has previously deferred to national judiciaries, and questioned “the legitimacy and credibility of this investigation.”

The announcement doesn’t help, and could hinder, the efforts to reach a ceasefire, secure the release of hostages, and provide more humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in Gaza, Blinken added.

Netanyahu has denounced Khan’s request as a “political outrage” that will not stop Israel from waging war against Hamas. An unnamed official from his cabinet described the ICC prosecutor’s move earlier on Monday as a “baseless blood libel against Israel” and “lawfare efforts against the lone Jewish state and the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Mentioning Netanyahu and Gallant “alongside the vile Nazi-like monsters of Hamas [is] a historical disgrace that will be remembered forever,” said Foreign Minister Israel Katz, while Justice Minister Yariv Levin slammed the move as “one of the greatest moral disgraces in human history,” and suggested that the “attempt to deny the State of Israel the right to self-defense” was an expression of “modern anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews wherever they are.”

The ICC “equates the victim with the executioner” and could encourage Israel to continue its “war of extermination” in Gaza, Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri has told Reuters.

Washington has a law allowing “any means necessary” to defend American troops and allies from ICC warrants, a dozen US Senators wrote to the ICC earlier this month, implying that Khan and others might find themselves targeted by the “Hague invasion act.”