Israeli official: ICC warrants will spark ‘wave of antisemitism’ that could blow up hostage deal

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

No decision has been made yet to send an Israeli delegation to Cairo, an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel. Those conversations are continuing tonight at the Kirya in Tel Aviv and include deliberations on the composition of the delegation and how much leeway it will have.

A Hamas delegation is in Cairo, says the Israeli official.

At the same time, stresses the official, “Israel is still determined to achieve all the goals of the war, whether a deal is reached or not.”

If the International Criminal Court does issue arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, continues the official, it will lead to “a wave of antisemitism around the world” that could blow up a potential hostage deal. This is not an Israeli threat to walk away from talks in the case of an ICC decision, explains the official, but reflects Israel’s belief that international pressure on Israel will remove pressure on Hamas to make compromises necessary for a deal.

Reacting to the US State Department report that found five IDF units guilty of “gross human rights violations,” the official says that Jerusalem “categorically rejects any attempts to harm the IDF and Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Nothing, says the official — not Iran and its proxies, State Department findings, or ICC warrants — will keep Israel from achieving its war aims.

“We are continuing to prepare for Rafah,” says the official.

“During past talks in Doha, we continued to surround Khan Younis, to capture Khan Younis,” the official says, referring to the city in southern Gaza that Israeli forces have since completely pulled out of. “[Rafah] is more complex, there are things we have to do, but we are continuing.”

There is a date for the evacuation of civilians, insists the official, but declines to share when that will be.

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