How America’s Actions against the ICC Exposed Its Complicity in Israeli Genocide in Gaza

Murad Jandali | a month ago

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A few days ago, and in a highly controversial move, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of passing a bill to impose sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its staff.

The bill submitted by GOP representatives came in response to the court seeking to issue an arrest warrant against Israeli Occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials.

The ICC's targeting of several Israeli leaders sparked widespread harsh reactions from Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

U.S. President Joe Biden also strongly condemned the ICC's move, while the White House said it did not support Republican-led efforts to impose sanctions on the court.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also considered the ICC's request to arrest Israeli officials on charges of involvement in war crimes in the Gaza Strip shameful.

He said that the ICC has no jurisdiction over “Israel,” adding that the court’s prosecution decision may undermine efforts to reach a hostage deal and a ceasefire in Gaza.

Controversial Bills

On June 4, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill allowing the imposition of sanctions on the ICC and also imposing sanctions on the court if it investigates or prosecutes people protected by Washington or its allies.

The recent bill has been seen by many as a clear demonstration of the unwavering support that “Israel” enjoys among the majority of U.S. across both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Critics argue that this bill is yet another example of the significant influence that the pro-"Israel" lobby wields over American politics, often at the expense of U.S. interests.

Lawmakers from both parties opposed ratifying the bill, arguing that it harms some U.S. allies that cooperate with the court, such as Japan and France.

Last month, House Speaker Mike Johnson condemned the ICC for its move to obtain arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials.

On its part, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) praised the House of Representatives' decision.

Although neither the United States nor “Israel” are members of the ICC, American officials expressed anger at the court's approach, especially since it is the first time the court has sought to prosecute a major ally of Washington.

The recent bill passed with the support of a majority of 247 votes against 155, with all Republican representatives and 42 Democratic representatives voting in favor of the bill.

The bill must receive the approval of the Senate and the signature of U.S. President Joe Biden in order to become law.

Some Senate Democrats, like John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, an outspoken supporter of “Israel,” have indicated they would support a bill sanctioning the court.

Among the most important Democrats who voted in favor of the bill was Rep. Elissa Slotkin, from Michigan, who is running for the state Senate seat, despite her previous balanced record on many issues.

In turn, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat from New Jersey, submitted a letter from twenty members from both parties calling on the Secretary of State and Treasury Secretary to impose sanctions on the court.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said that he cannot support the bill, expecting the bill to be dead on arrival in the Senate.

The recent vote becomes the latest in a growing string of controversial bills related to protecting “Israel” and anti-Semitism, which some Democratic leaders have described as a deliberate strategy by the GOP to divide them.

Last week, White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby said that the United States does not believe it is right to impose sanctions against the ICC.

He added during a press conference that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over “Israel”, and that Washington does not support issuing arrest warrants against Israeli officials.

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan announced about two weeks ago that he had submitted requests to the court to issue arrest warrants on charges of committing war crimes and genocide in connection with the war in Gaza and the attack of last October 7.

Khan said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant bear responsibility for crimes against humanity in Gaza.

He added that the evidence concluded that Israeli officials systematically deprived Palestinians of the basics of life and that Netanyahu and Gallant were complicit in causing suffering and starvation of civilians in Gaza.

Different Situation

While speaking with Time magazine, U.S. President Joe Biden said that the ICC is something we do not recognize.

This statement represented a completely different position from his previous position, in which he supported everything the court did in its effort to impose sanctions and prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin after he launched war on Ukraine in February 2022.

Congressional leaders, from both the Republican and Democratic parties, have also previously called on the White House to provide all possible support to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its effort to tighten the screws on Russia.

However, the U.S. position changed completely when it came to “Israel” and its ongoing violations related to its aggression against the Gaza Strip.

Washington's opposition to the ICC reached its peak during the administration of former President Donald Trump.

At that time, Washington pledged to impose sanctions on the judges and prosecutors in the court if they began investigating what the court said that “members of the U.S. military and the CIA may have committed war crimes by torturing detainees in Afghanistan in 2016.”

Indeed, Washington then imposed sanctions on members of the court and blocked the bank accounts of the former president of the court, Fatou Bensouda.

But relations began to improve with the start of the era of President Joe Biden, who pledged to respect the rules of international law, as Washington dropped those sanctions.

Political analyst Ibrahim Khatib considered, in his talk for Al-Estiklal, that the House of Representatives’ vote to impose sanctions on the ICC sends a strong message of support to the Israeli Occupation leaders: they are above the law; they are under American protection; and no UN or international body can try or prosecute them.

“It is ironic that the United States, which has always used international courts and the UN over the past decades to retaliate against its enemies and get rid of them, is today working hard to secure judicial immunity for its ally, Israel,” he said.

However, Mr. Khatib ruled out that this bill would become law, justifying this by saying that the Biden administration indicated that it does not support imposing direct sanctions on the ICC because that would double Washington's negative image before the international community regarding its complicity with Israeli atrocities in Gaza.

The U.S. also protects “Israel” in the UNSC, which is the recipient of a record number of condemnation resolutions from the UN every year, and constantly blocks the adoption of sanction resolutions.

The U.S. provides “Israel” with billions of dollars of military and economic aid every year before the Gaza war and has continued to fund the Israeli Occupation's brutal military operations and settlement policies during the Gaza war. The U.S. openly condones violations of international law.