White House: Court 'has no jurisdiction in this situation'

Report: Several nations urging ICC not to issue arrest warrants for Israelis

Bloomberg says US, allies fear potential dramatic move will risk truce deal, hostage release; Hamas leaders may also be targeted; matter to be discussed in Tuesday cabinet meeting

File - The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, on March 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
File - The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, on March 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

The United States and allied nations are worried that potential arrest warrants for Israeli officials by the International Criminal Court in The Hague could sink a hostages-for-truce agreement between Israel and Hamas, according to a Monday Bloomberg report.

Citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, the news outlet reported on concerns that Israel could back away from the agreement if the ICC issues warrants.

The report said G7 nations had begun a quiet campaign to dissuade the court from issuing the warrants, without specifying which countries were involved in the effort.

An Israeli official told The Times of Israel Monday that if the court does issue arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, it will lead to “a wave of antisemitism around the world” and could blow up a potential hostage deal. This was not an Israeli threat to walk away from talks in case of an ICC decision, explained the official, but reflected Israel’s belief that international pressure on Israel will remove pressure on Hamas to make compromises necessary for a deal.

The issue of potential ICC arrest warrants was to be discussed in Tuesday afternoon’s cabinet meeting, as the first item on the agenda. Hebrew media said the item was added late, and that Netanyahu himself was to make a presentation on the matter.

Foreign diplomatic officials like US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the UK’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron expressed their hopes over the weekend that Hamas would accept Israel’s latest “extraordinarily generous” offer for a hostage deal that would see a 40-day pause in fighting and the release of potentially thousands of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 33 hostages in an initial phase.

Additionally, a White House spokesperson reiterated US opposition to the investigation on Monday, saying: “The ICC has no jurisdiction in this situation, and we do not support its investigation.”

Meanwhile, five Israeli and foreign officials told The New York Times on Friday that they believed the ICC was weighing arrest warrants for Hamas leaders as well.

Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar speaks during a rally marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day, in Gaza City, April 14, 2023. (Mohammed Abed / AFP)

The court’s chief prosecutor Karim Khan’s office has been investigating the terrorist organization for its October 7 attack on Israel, as well as Israel conduct in the war that it has waged since then.

An Israeli team has been working for weeks to try to prevent the ICC from issuing arrest warrants against Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi.

An official on the team told Ynet on Saturday that there was concern the ICC would issue secret warrants, and that the officials would only know they were wanted when they traveled to another country.

The ICC is a treaty-based criminal court focusing on individual criminal responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Hamas’s unprecedented onslaught on southern Israeli communities and army bases saw terrorists murder some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and take 253 hostages. Footage from the attack as well as testimonies from eyewitnesses and victims show the terrorists utilized extreme physical, psychological, and sexual abuse during the attack and on hostages in Gaza.

Israel believes 129 hostages remain in Hamas captivity, although not all of them are alive. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 34 while last week, Hamas released videos showing signs of life from Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Keith Siegel, and Omri Miran.

From left: Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at a cadets graduation ceremony at the IDF’s officers school in southern Israel, known as Bahad 1, March 7, 2024. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza claims that Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in the ensuing war. That number cannot be independently verified and is believed to include both Hamas terror operatives and civilians, some of whom were killed as a consequence of the terror group’s own rocket misfires.

The IDF says it has killed over 13,000 terrorists in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 who were killed inside Israel on and immediately following October 7. The army also says that 263 soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion began at the end of October. Together with soldiers killed on or immediately after October 7, the military’s casualties number over 600.

Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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