Trump foreign policy adviser urges sanctions on ICC officials after meeting Netanyahu

Then-US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien speaks at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City, Philippines, November 23, 2020. (Eloisa Lopez/Pool Photo via AP)
Then-US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien speaks at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City, Philippines, November 23, 2020. (Eloisa Lopez/Pool Photo via AP)

The United States should slap sanctions on International Criminal Court officials who seek an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a top foreign policy adviser to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says.

Robert O’Brien, who served as Trump’s fourth and final national security adviser, made the comments in a Jerusalem interview with Reuters after meeting Netanyahu and other Israeli officials during a multi-day visit to the US ally.

O’Brien, who says Trump would be briefed on the results of the trip, discusses what he called the ICC’s “irrational decision” to issue a warrant for Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, along with three Palestinian Hamas leaders, in his meetings with the Israeli officials.

“We can sanction the bank accounts, the travel. We can put visa restrictions on these corrupt prosecutors and judges. We can show some real mettle here,” O’Brien tells Reuters from Jerusalem.

O’Brien is joined by former US Ambassador to the UAE John Rakolta and former Ambassador to Switzerland Ed McMullen.

The trip is a rare case of Trump allies traveling abroad as part of an organized delegation to meet foreign officials.

In addition to Netanyahu, the delegation met in recent days with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, and Gallant, O’Brien said. Their itinerary did not include Palestinian leaders.

O’Brien says rescuing all remaining hostages held by Hamas and capturing Yahya Sinwar, the mastermind of the October 7 attack on Israel that prompted Israel’s Gaza offensive, would be key to declaring victory over the terror group.

“This is something I did share with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and President Herzog and Benny Gantz from the war cabinet: We’ve got to move quickly,” O’Brien tells Reuters. “Israel has to defeat Hamas in Rafah.”

The group says they did not go to Israel at Trump’s behest.

In addition to meeting political leaders, members of the delegation traveled to areas of Israel that were targeted in the Hamas attack in October, including the site of the Nova Music Festival and the Nir Oz kibbutz, both near Gaza.

In the Reuters interview, O’Brien says he was throwing his support behind Republican-led legislation in Congress that would sanction ICC employees who investigate officials in the U.S. or in allied countries that do not recognize the court, like Israel.

Throughout the interview, O’Brien, Rakolta and McMullen rejected assessments that Israel is not doing enough to protect civilian life.

“The Israelis are conducting themselves in a really fine tradition of a modern, humanitarian military, and I think that’s the biggest takeaway from the meetings we’ve had in my view,” O’Brien says.

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