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US lawmakers preparing sanctions against ICC over Israel – Axios

Some Republicans are reportedly hoping to dissuade the international court from issuing arrest warrants for the Israeli leadership

A group of Republican lawmakers in the US House of Representatives is devising sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC) in a bid to protect Israeli leaders, Axios has reported.

The measures are aimed at deterring the international body from issuing arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several other senior officials over the ongoing military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Launched following the incursion by the militant group on October 7, which claimed the lives of around 1,200 Israelis, the offensive has resulted in the deaths of nearly 35,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to Hamas-controlled health authorities.

The campaign has widely been regarded as a disproportionate and heavy-handed response by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and has attracted increasing criticism in recent months, including from countries that traditionally back Israel, such as the US and some Western European nations.

In January, the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) said in a ruling that it was “plausible” that the Israeli military had committed genocide in the densely populated Palestinian enclave.

Over the past few weeks, several media outlets have claimed that the ICC could charge the Israeli leadership with war crimes.

In an article on Tuesday, Axios quoted House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul as saying that he and his colleagues had been in contact with ICC prosecutor Karim Khan.

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“We’re not sure if the arrest warrants are imminent, but it’s sort of a precaution to let them know that, if they do, we have this legislation ready to go,” he revealed.

Late last month, Republican and Democrat US representatives issued a statement warning the ICC of “consequences” in the event that it pursued the Israeli prime minister and other officials.

Their colleagues in the US Senate held a virtual meeting with ICC representatives last week to convey their concerns, Axios reported.

Khan said in a statement released last Friday that threats to “retaliate against the court or against court personnel” undermine the international body’s independence and impartiality.

“The Office insists that all attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence its officials cease immediately,” he wrote.

Netanyahu has accused the judicial body of seeking to “paralyze Israel’s very ability to defend itself,” while fanning the “fires of anti-Semitism.”

In late April, Axios, citing two anonymous Israeli officials, claimed that the Israeli prime minister had asked US President Joe Biden to stop the ICC from issuing arrest warrants.

May 08, 2024 at 02:41PM

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