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‘We’re next!’ US senators warn about ICC

A group led by Lindsey Graham has urged sanctions against The Hague-based court

If the International Criminal Court is willing to go after the Israeli leadership, it won’t hesitate to go after US lawmakers, according to Senator Lindsey Graham. The South Carolina Republican united with Democrats in calling for sanctions on the Hague court.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, arguing there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that they were guilty of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” in the Gaza conflict. Khan has also sought warrants for three senior members of Hamas.

“We – hopefully, together – will find a way to register our displeasure with the ICC because if they’ll do this to Israel, we’re next,” Graham said on Tuesday, at a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing where US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was testifying.

“Yeah, you can clap all you want,” Graham replied, as a group of protesters in the chamber began to applaud at his “we’re next” comment.

He argued that the US needs to impose sanctions against the ICC “to not only help our friends in Israel but protect ourselves over time,” noting that the court “tried to come after our soldiers in Afghanistan, but reason prevailed.”

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Washington had sanctioned the ICC prosecutor who tried to investigate allegations of atrocities and war crimes committed by the US and its allies in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, a dozen senators wrote to Khan to remind him that a US law allows “all means necessary and appropriate” to defend any Americans – or allies – sought by the court. The 2002 law was nicknamed the “Hague Invasion Act.” 

Graham was not signatory to that letter. On Tuesday, however, he issued a joint statement with seven other senators – three Republicans and four Democrats – pledging to “work in a bipartisan manner to strenuously object to the ICC’s actions against our ally, Israel, and take appropriate steps to help Israel and protect American personnel from future ICC action.”

Washington has insisted that the ICC lacks jurisdiction over West Jerusalem, since Israel is not a signatory to the Rome Statute which established the court. Last year, however, the US praised Khan for seeking to charge Russian President Vladimir Putin – even though Moscow is not a party to the Rome Statute, either.

May 22, 2024 at 10:01PM
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