Congress Promises Retaliation for Potential ICC Arrest Warrants

( – After half a year at war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Israeli officials are becoming concerned that their country’s leaders could become targeted by the International Criminal Court, which has put the Jewish state on notice for possible war crimes before.

Netanyahu also urged President Joe Biden and the U.S. to intervene if necessary to help stop the warrants, and members from both parties of Congress sternly warned the ICC while calling on Biden himself to tell the court to “stand down.”

In an April 29th statement, House Speaker Mike Johnson called the action “disgraceful” and “lawless.” He then called on Biden himself to challenge the ICC’s jurisdiction, which Johnson said might “create and assume unprecedented power” against his nation’s own political leaders, diplomats, and military personnel. Even Pennsylvania Democratic Senator John Fetterman came to Israel’s defense.

On Friday, April 26th, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to concerns that the ICC may issue warrants against Israeli officials by stating that the Jewish state “will never accept any attempt” by the international court “to undermine its inherent right to self-defense.” He added that while Israel’s actions would not be affected by the ICC, warrants from the court “would set a dangerous precedent.”

Although they did not provide a source for the rumors, Israel’s Foreign Ministry passed the information on to its missions abroad on Sunday, April 28th, about the possibility of warrants issued to arrest senior political and military officials. The Israeli military and Palestinian militia groups have both been under investigation since 2014 when the last surge of violence erupted in the region during Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge.”

Established in 2002, the ICC is an international court of last resort used to prosecute people responsible for the most brutal atrocities, including crimes against humanity such as genocide or war crimes. Without a police force, it relies on individual member states to pursue and arrest suspects, making prosecutions difficult to carry out.

It was created by the Rome Statute, adopted in 1998, and then ratified in 2002. 124 member states signed the statute, but many did not sign and rejected the jurisdiction of the court over crimes against humanity, including Israel. The biggest players on the world stage – the U.S., China, and Russia – also did not sign it. These nations argue that the ICC is not needed to prosecute such crimes because their systems are fit enough to do so and that the ICC’s role is only to step in for countries unwilling or unable to prosecute on their own territory.

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