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US lawmakers seek sanctions to “punish” ICC over Netanyahu arrest warrant application

Republican lawmakers on Monday called for the United States to impose sanctions on the ICC.

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WASHINGTON DC, US: United States lawmakers are contemplating imposing sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) if it issues an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US House Speaker Mike Johnson said.

“In the absence of leadership from the White House, Congress is reviewing all options, including sanctions, to punish the ICC and ensure its leadership faces consequences if they proceed. If the ICC is allowed to threaten Israeli leaders, ours could be next,” the US House Speaker said in a statement on Monday (local time).

He further said “The ICC has no authority over Israel or the United States, and today’s baseless and illegitimate decision should face global condemnation.”

ICC chief prosecutor Karim A A Khan on May 20 announced the filing of arrest warrant applications against both Netanyahu and Israel Defence Minister Yoav Gallant alongside Hamas’s three top leaders — Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh, for allegedly committing crimes against humanity during Isreal’s seven-month-old war against Hamas in Gaza.

Republican lawmakers on Monday called for the United States to impose sanctions on the ICC.

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik told the New York Post that “The ICC is an illegitimate court that equivocates a peaceful nation protecting its right to exist with radical terror groups that commit genocide”. Stefanik met with Netanyahu on Monday morning as the warrants were announced.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in a statement called the warrants “shameful and unserious.”

Earlier this month, Representative Texas introduced the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act to revoke visas for ICC officials who investigate or prosecute US officials or American allies.

Meanwhile, human rights attorney Amal Clooney is among the experts who advised the ICC prosecutor to seek the arrest warrants.
The wife of actor George Clooney in a statement said explained how she had found herself advising ICC chief prosecutor Khan.

“I served on this panel because I believe in the rule of law and the need to protect civilian lives. The law that protects civilians in war was developed more than 100 years ago and it applies in every country in the world regardless of the reasons for a conflict,” Clooney said in the statement shared on the shared on the Clooney Foundation for Justice website.

US President Joe Biden himself termed the ICC prosecuter’s application for arrest warrants as “outrageous” stating that the US “will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the fundamentally rejects the ICC Prosecutor equivalence between Israel and Hamas and said the announcement could could jeopardize negotiations on a hostage deal and ceasefire.

He further said that the United States has been clear since well before the current conflict that that ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter.

Blinken said that the ICC Prosecutor himself was scheduled to visit Israel next week to discuss the investigation and hear from the Israeli Government.

In his reaction to the annoncement, Israel PM Netanyahu said the “absurd and false warrant by the prosecutor in The Hague is directed not only against the prime minister of Israel and the defence minister but against the entire State of Israel.”

“It is directed against the IDF soldiers, who are fighting with supreme heroism against the vile Hamas murderers,” he said in a video statement are reported in the Times of Israel.