Netanyahu expresses disappointment as Biden refuses to back ICC sanctions

8 days ago
Netanyahu expresses disappointment as Biden refuses to back ICC sanctions

In a recent interview broadcast on Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his disappointment that US President Joe Biden has decided not to seek sanctions against the International Criminal Court. This decision comes as the ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for the Israeli prime minister.

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives voted to move forward with a primarily symbolic bill that advocates for sanctions on the International Criminal Court. This decision came after the court’s prosecutor requested an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act, supported by the majority of Republicans and some Democrats in the US House, aims to prevent ICC officials linked to the case from entering the US. This would involve the revocation of their visas and limitations on any property transactions within the country.

“The United States said that they would, in fact, in a bipartisan way, back the sanctions bill,” Netanyahu said in an interview on Sirius XM radio, which was recorded on Wednesday — before the latest Gaza truce plan emerged.

“I thought that was still the American position because there was a bipartisan consensus just a few days ago,” he said.

“Now, you say there’s a question mark. And frankly, I’m surprised and disappointed.”

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said last month that he was seeking warrants for Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on suspicions of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel’s war on Gaza.

Washington is not a member of the International Criminal Court, and has traditionally rejected its jurisdiction to issue warrants for US citizens, but has worked with the court on some issues as an observer.

Facing Republicans pushing for sanctions against the ICC in response, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously told Congress that “we want to work with you on a bipartisan basis to find an appropriate response.”

While the White House has criticized the ICC, and Biden called the application for arrest warrants “outrageous,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later told reporters that sanctions were not “the right approach.”

The Netanyahu interview was aired amid strained relations between Washington and its key Middle Eastern ally, though little has changed policy wise in terms of US support.

It was also recorded before Biden outlined a Gaza ceasefire deal Friday which immediately sparked further fissures between the US president and Israeli prime minister.

Biden had said Israel was offering a new roadmap towards a permanent peace in the embattled Palestinian territory, with the president outlining a three-phase proposal that would start with a six-week complete ceasefire.

Shortly after Biden’s announcement, however, Netanyahu insisted his country would still pursue the war until it had reached all its goals.

The Israeli leader took issue with Biden’s presentation of what was on the table, insisting on Friday the transition from one stage to the next was “conditional” and crafted to allow Israel to maintain its war aims.

Netanyahu reiterated that position on Saturday, saying that “Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed: the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”