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Sabra Express | Just Us

UN.org, May 20th, 2024

 

Recap:

The International Criminal Court (ICC) seeks arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant alongside the leaders of Hamas over the Gaza war.

 

The Context:

·      The war in Gaza began after Hamas killed 1,200 people and took 252 hostages into Gaza on October 7th.” Hamas claims over 35,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, a number many in the West accept at face value despite it being unverifiable. This week, the United Nations reduced their official tally to 24,840, saying they cannot verify that the missing 10,000 ever existed [1].

·      The ICC is a permanent court based in The Hague that prosecutes those who “bear the greatest responsibility for crimes” committed including heads of state. Once an arrest warrant is issued and if the alleged perpetrator is arrested, a Trial Chamber headed by three judges “may impose a sentence not exceeding a maximum of thirty years or life imprisonment.” Israel is not a signatory to the ICC’s foundational charter, signed in Rome in 2002, although Palestine is.

·      Prosecutor Karim Khan said the decision proceeded from a review of evidence by a panel of experts, including human rights attorney Amal Clooney, wife of actor George Clooney [2]. The panel determined warrants were necessary since "there is no conflict that should be excluded from the reach of the law [3]." In its two decades of existence, the ICC has had less than 10 successful prosecutions and many point to glaring examples of missing cases that they believe the ICC should pursue, such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and any official from the Iranian regime. Israel is now being investigated alongside Congo, Sudan, Libya, Mali, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Russia [4].  

·      Netanyahu and Gallant do not face any immediate risk of prosecution, but the threat of arrest could make it difficult for the Israeli leaders to travel abroad. Netanyahu called the move “the new antisemitism.” According to the ICC’s charter, the court cannot hold trials for nationals of countries that have independent judiciaries able and willing to investigate. Israel’s Attorney General said Israel examines all claims of violations of the law and asserted that the ICC therefore has no right or authority to investigate and charge Israeli officials [5].

·      US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will work with lawmakers on sanctions against the ICC saying there is "no equivalence - none - between Israel and Hamas." Blinken's remarks echoed the broader pushback in Washington over the court's decision [6]. Asked if the German government would execute an ICC arrest order against Netanyahu, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government said, "of course. We abide by the law [7]."

 

Conversation Points:

·      What explains the panel's selective prosecution of leaders?

·      Why does the ICC feel it is permitted to overstep Israel’s judiciary?

·      What’s the significance of Clooney’s presence on the ICC panel?

·      Will Khan’s announcement have the opposite effect on Bibi’s popularity within Israel?

·      Why does Palestine's unilateral entry into international bodies without a broader agreement with Israel jeopardize Israel?

 

Notes:

6.     US signals support for possible ICC sanctions over Israel warrants, Sam Cabral, Rachel Looker, Cai Pigliucci, BBC, May 23rd, 2024

 

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