July 21, 2024
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA

Biden Defends Israel Against ICC War Crimes Charges


President Joe Biden has stood firm in defending Israel against allegations of war crimes in the world’s leading judicial bodies.

His comments followed the announcement by Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), who indicated he would seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over alleged war crimes during the Gaza conflict. “To be clear, we categorically reject the ICC’s warrants against Israeli officials,” Biden stated at a Jewish American Heritage Month event at the White House on Monday. This statement coincided with Khan’s announcement of arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Gallant, and Hamas leaders on similar charges.

“There is no moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas,” Biden emphasized. Earlier, he had strongly condemned the ICC’s actions, calling them “outrageous.”

Separately, Israel is facing genocide charges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), initiated by South Africa.

Biden refuted claims of genocide by Israel in Gaza. “Contrary to the ICJ’s allegations, what is occurring in Gaza is not genocide. We reject that assertion,” Biden said in his speech. In January, the ICJ had ruled there was a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza and ordered Israel to take preventative measures. Despite the supportive response at the White House event, Biden’s re-election campaign has faced backlash from pro-Palestinian protests across the US, with some critics dubbing him “Genocide Joe.”

The ICC prosecutor detailed charges against Netanyahu and Gallant, including “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare” and “extermination,” though his investigation continues.

Khan also requested arrest warrants for three Hamas leaders – Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri (also known as Deif), and Ismail Haniyeh – for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including extermination, murder, hostage-taking, torture, and sexual violence.

These charges were backed by evidence from a panel of experts, including international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

In a statement, Clooney asserted, “No conflict should be beyond the reach of the law, nor any perpetrator above the law.” Some US Republican lawmakers harshly criticized the ICC’s actions on Monday.

Senator Tom Cotton expressed, “My colleagues and I will ensure neither Khan, his associates, nor their families ever set foot in the United States again.” The ICC, the first permanent international war crimes court, requires its 124 member states to arrest anyone wanted if they enter a member state’s territory.

The US is not an ICC member and may leverage its influence on European allies who are ICC signatories to ignore the warrants, reported Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro from Washington, DC. Israel, China, and Russia are also not ICC members.

International reactions to the ICC’s decision have varied.

Switzerland’s UN envoy Pascale Baeriswyl, addressing the UN Security Council, stated that Switzerland “fully supports the court and underscores the importance of its independence.”

This move by the ICC, which issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2023 for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, marks its first intervention in the Middle Eastern conflict.

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