Netanyahu warns Biden he will “punish” Palestinian Authority if ICC issues arrest warrants against Israeli leaders
05/07/2024 // Belle Carter // Views

The State of Palestine will suffer if the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues arrest warrants against Israeli leaders, the Israeli government warned President Joe Biden's administration.

The ICC, a permanent international court established to investigate and prosecute individuals accused of committing the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, has been investigating possible war crimes committed by both Israeli and Palestinian fighters since 2021, with the probe taking in events going back to the 2014 Gaza war. Said investigation has been extended to the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and the war that has been raging in Gaza since then, according to the prosecutor's office.

Two Israeli officials reportedly said that Israel recently told the U.S. that it has information suggesting Palestinian Authority officials are pressing the ICC prosecutor to issue arrest warrants against Israeli leaders, namely Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Herzi Halevi. Israel expressed that it will consider the Palestinian Authority (PA) responsible and retaliate with strong action that could lead to its collapse.

The sources, meanwhile, told Axios that the Biden administration has told ICC officials in private that "arrest warrants against Israeli leaders would be a mistake. White House assured them that the U.S. doesn't support the action."

"We are quietly encouraging the ICC not to do it. It will blow up everything. Israel will retaliate against the Palestinian Authority," a U.S. official said. One such action that Israel warned about is freezing the transfer of tax revenues Israel collects for the PA. Without these funds, the PA would be bankrupt.

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Meanwhile, the Israeli media has reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "frightened and unusually stressed" by the prospect of being issued with an arrest warrant. He was reported to have been acting like "an elephant in a China shop," hammering the phones and seeking to put pressure on the ICC by any means necessary.

In a televised speech for the opening ceremony of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday, the prime minister said the ICC was "founded as a consequence of the Holocaust" and should not attempt to undermine Israel's fundamental right to self-defense. Any arrests would restrict Israel's ability to defend itself, calling it a "distortion of justice and history," he argued. "Even if Israel is forced to stand alone, we will stand alone, and we will continue to strike our enemies powerfully until victory. Even if we have to stand alone, we will continue to fight human evil," Netanyahu added.

Israel is not a member of the ICC and rejects the court's jurisdiction. That has not previously stopped the court from investigating its actions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

ICC calls to end court intimidation and threats

Amid its probe into war crimes being committed in Gaza, the prosecutor's office at the ICC has revealed it was experiencing threats. And so it appealed for an end to what it calls intimidation of its staff, saying such threats could constitute an offense against the "administration of justice" by the world's permanent war crimes court.

The Hague-based office of ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan did not mention Israel but the office's statement was issued after Israeli and U.S. officials warned of consequences against the ICC if it issues arrest warrants over Israel's war on Gaza. "The Office seeks to engage constructively with all stakeholders whenever such dialogue is consistent with its mandate under the Rome Statute to act independently and impartially," it said. "That independence and impartiality is undermined, however, when individuals threaten to retaliate against the Court or against Court personnel should the Office, in fulfillment of its mandate, make decisions about investigations or cases falling within its jurisdiction." It added that the Rome Statute, which outlines the ICC's structure and areas of jurisdiction, prohibits threats against the court and its officials.

The international court is empowered to prosecute individuals for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Since the Israeli military has killed nearly 35,000 people in Gaza and destroyed large parts of the territory since the start of the war on Oct. 7, the ICC proceeded to try the case.

Meanwhile, White House spokesman John Kirby was asked during a briefing about threats by Republican lawmakers to pass legislation against the ICC. According to Kirby, the U.S. is opposed to an ICC investigation against Israel but stressed it is also opposed to threats and intimidations against the court's judges. This alarmed Israeli officials and they asked the White House whether it represents a change in the U.S. position. The White House said there has been no change, Axios reported. (Related: Like THUGS, members of U.S. Congress make threats against ICC if arrest warrants are issued against Netanyahu for Israeli war crimes.)

Check out to read more stories on how Natanyahu's regime is starting to crumble as the conflict drags on.

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