Republicans Ready Sanctions On World Court If It Issues Arrest Warrants For Israelis

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, May 09, 2024 - 10:55 AM

Via The Cradle

Republican members of the US House of Representatives are preparing a sanctions package targeting International Criminal Court (ICC) officials as a "precaution" against potential arrest warrants of Israeli officials for war crimes committed in Gaza, according to Axios.

"We want to emphasize to [ICC prosecutor Karim Khan] that going down this road of arrest warrants is a really bad idea, and it's going to blow up the relationship," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul told the US news outlet.

Image source: @Yaf

"We're not sure if the arrest warrants are imminent, but it's sort of a precaution to let them know that, if they do, we have this legislation ready to go. It won't be put on the floor unless we have to," he added.

McCaul emphasized the new package would come as a "companion" to legislation introduced last February in the Senate that seeks to sanction ICC officials "involved in probes of US allies who are not ICC members, such as Israel."

The report by Axios comes on the heels of a harshly worded letter sent by a group of Republican senators to Khan, warning him against prosecuting Israeli officials for alleged genocide in Gaza.

"Target Israel and we will target you," the senators tell Khan, adding that they will "sanction your employees and associates, and bar you and your families from the United States."

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Zeteo website, concludes: "You have been warned." It contains the signatures of 12 Republican senators, including Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.

Neither Washington nor Tel Aviv are among the 124 states that remain signatories of the ICC Rome Statute of 1998. Nevertheless, the occupied Palestinian territories were admitted to the court with the status of a member state in April 2015.

US officials have been scrambling to protect Israeli authorities from war crimes prosecution ever since reports revealed the ICC was looking into the atrocities committed in Gaza.

Last week, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers threatened the ICC with "retaliation" following a virtual meeting in which they expressed their "concerns" to court officials. In response, Khan condemned the "threats of retaliation" from the US.

"That independence and impartiality are undermined, however, when individuals threaten to retaliate… should the office, in fulfillment of its mandate, make decisions about investigations or cases falling within its jurisdiction," he added. Khan, a British citizen, demanded that "all attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence its officials cease immediately."

ICC prosecutors recently interviewed the staff of Gaza’s two largest hospitals, Al-Shifa Hospital in the north and Al-Nasser Hospital in the south – both of which were decimated by the Israeli army, reportedly leaving behind hundreds of corpses buried in mass graves.

In 2002, two years after Washington withdrew from the Rome Statute, then-president George W Bush signed into law the "American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002," which authorizes the use of military force in the Netherlands to "liberate" any US citizen or citizen of a US-allied country held by the ICC

"The office seeks to engage constructively with all stakeholders whenever such dialogue is consistent with its mandate under the Rome Statute to act independently and impartially," the ICC prosecutor said in a statement.