US officials threaten sanctions over ICC warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant

“If they’ll do this to Israel, we’re next,” US Senator says, with bipartisan support building for ICC sanctions

May 22, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
Senator Lindsey Graham remarks, "What I hope to happen is that we level sanctions against the ICC for this outrage"

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has suggested that he will work with US lawmakers to issue sanctions against the International Criminal Court, over arrest warrants issued against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. 

Some congressmembers, including Republican Senators James Risch and Lindsey Graham, are working on legislation to sanction the ICC, and hoping to gather bipartisan support. 

“Together, we’ll find a way to register our displeasure with the ICC, cause if they’ll do this to Israel, we’re next,” said Graham on Tuesday, indicating US officials’ sense of their complicity in the genocide in Gaza. “What I hope to happen is that we level sanctions against the ICC for this outrage, to not only help our friends in Israel, but protect ourselves over time.” 

At a May 21 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Risch asked Blinken if he would support legislation that would take the ICC to task for “sticking its nose in the business of countries that have an independent, legitimate, democratic judicial system.”

Blinken responded, “We want to work with you on a bipartisan basis to find an appropriate response. I’m committed to doing that.”

He followed up by saying, “There’s no question we have to look at the appropriate steps to take to deal with, again, what is a profoundly wrong-headed decision.”

US President Biden has also registered his outrage at the arrest warrants, and said in a statement that “The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous.”

“Let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence—none—between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security,” Biden said. 

On May 20, International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, issued arrest warrants for the two Israeli leaders. Netanyahu and Gallant stand accused of “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” including but not limited to “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare,” “wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health,” and “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population.” 

The Court also issued warrants for three Hamas leaders, Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Al Dief, and Ismail Haniya. 

During a May 20 interview with CNN, Khan responded to backlash against the arrest warrants. Taking on allegations of antisemitism, Khan denounced “the idea that by applying the law blindly, we are favoring one side or persecuting, or being hostile to another side.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said, going onto to say that he has appointed an independent panel to review the arrest warrant process. “This is not a witch hunt,” he added.