The US Secretary of State pushes back against assertions made by both Democrats and Republican lawmakers during an ongoing House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
Blinken dismisses a claim made by several Republican lawmakers that the rockets used by Gaza-based Palestinian terror groups in Gaza in last month’s fighting with Israel were produced by Iran.
“The best assessment we have” from the 11-day conflict is that “most of the rockets were indigenously produced in Gaza by Hamas,” he says, clarifying that that does not excuse Iran’s support for Hamas, particularly at the rhetorical level during the recent violence.
Also in the hearing, Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota urges Blinken to explain where victims of alleged war crimes in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Afghanistan should turn, given the Biden administration’s opposition to International Criminal Court probes in those areas.
Blinken says he was “profoundly moved” by the loss of life in the recent Gaza war. However, he says, the US will continue to oppose ICC war crimes probes absent a UN Security Council referral or a request by the country itself.
“I continue to believe that whether it’s United States or Israel, we both have the mechanisms to make sure that there’s accountability in any situation where there’s concern about use of force, human rights, or other issues,” he says. “We believe that both of our democracies have that capacity, we’ve demonstrated it and we need to demonstrate it going forward.”
Blinken also denies reports that State Department officials have been ordered not to use the term Abraham Accords. He says he has no problem calling them that and stresses that he plans to work to expand the normalization agreements between Israel and Arab and Muslim countries.