Blinken blames Hamas for Gazans’ suffering; Herzog pans potential UN court arrest warrants against Israelis

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv, May 1, 2024. (Maayan Toaf / GPO)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv, May 1, 2024. (Maayan Toaf / GPO)

Meeting with President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken places the blame squarely on Hamas for a failure to reach a hostage deal, saying the Gaza terror organization is “the only reason that that wouldn’t be achieved.”

“No delays, no excuses,” says Blinken. “The time is now.”

In a change of tune from recent criticism of Israeli policies, Blinken also blames Hamas for the suffering of Gazan civilians: “We also have to be focused on people in Gaza who are suffering in this crossfire of Hamas’s making, and so focused on getting them the assistance they need — the food, medicine, the water, the shelter.”

Herzog blasts the potential issuing of arrest warrants against Israeli leaders by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“Our enemies and other elements are trying to undermine the entire process by using international legal forums that were established in order to have a world order that pursues peace, and pursues the values and norms that we all believe in in the modern world,” says Herzog. “Especially the efforts done at the International Criminal Court.”

“Israel has a very strong legal system, very strong adjudication and law enforcement system, and it has pursued legal steps from the highest authorities in this land [against] any other citizen,” stresses Herzog.

He says that using the ICC against Israel “is a clear and present danger to democracies and to free peace-loving nations who pursue the norms of international law, and I call upon all our allies and friends to object and reject any such efforts.”

Blinken will next meet families of American hostages held in Gaza, before heading to Jerusalem to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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