U.S. Politicians Threaten to Invade Int'l Criminal Court (ICC)

US Senators sent a letter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, threatening to impose sanctions and even invade the Hague if it issues arrest warrants for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Biden administration is also pressuring the ICC not to charge Israeli officials over their war crimes in Gaza.

US government officials have threatened the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, telling its Prosecutor Karim Khan that if he issues arrest warrants against Israeli officials over their war crimes in Gaza, the US government could impose sanctions on him, other ICC personnel, and their family members.

US senators even threatened to invade the Hague if it tries to prosecute Israeli officials.

UN experts: Israel is committing genocide in Gaza

This April, Israel’s extreme-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a prominent member of the state security cabinet, called for “total annihilation” of Gaza.

Smotrich cited the Biblical nation of Amalek – a genocidal reference also made by far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

These invocations of Amalek are clear calls for genocide. In the Book of Samuel, God orders King Saul, “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys”.

The UN’s top legal body, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled this January that Israel could be investigated on “plausible” charges of violating the Genocide Convention. (The ICJ and ICC are separate institutions, although both are located at the Hague.)

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have stated that Israel is violating this ICJ ruling that demands that it abide by the Genocide Convention.

Top UN experts have publicly warned that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

In addition to bombing civilian areas and killing tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, Israel has used hunger as a weapon, starving Palestinian civilians.

The US director of the UN World Food Program warned that Gaza is now suffering from a “full-blown famine”, after seven months of a suffocating Israeli blockade.

The US government has provided the vast majority of the weapons that Israel is using to bomb civilian areas in Gaza. If Israeli officials face charges over their war crimes, Washington would be complicit.

US senators threaten to sanction and invade the ICC

On April 24, a dozen Republican senators sent a threatening letter to the ICC prosecutor. The media outlet Zeteo obtained the document.

The missive was signed by major GOP leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Tom Cotton.

In the aggressively worded letter, the senators pledged to “sanction your employees and associates, and bar you and your families from the United States” if Israeli officials face charges over their war crimes in Gaza.

“Target Israel and we will target you”, they threatened.

Issuing an arrest warrant for Netanyahu or other top officials would be seen “not only as a threat to Israel’s sovereignty but to the sovereignty of the United States”, the US politicians wrote, making it clear that they see Israel as a key part of the US empire.

“Our country demonstrated in the American Service-Members’ Protection Act the lengths to which we will go to protect that sovereignty”, they added.

The American Service-Members’ Protection Act is popularly known as the “Hague Invasion Act”. The legislation was signed into law in 2002 by President George W. Bush.

Human Rights Watch explained that this law “authorizes the use of military force to liberate any American or citizen of a U.S.-allied country being held by the court”.

By invoking the Hague Invasion Act in their 2024 letter to the ICC prosecutor, the Republican senators made it clear that the two-decade-old legislation is still valid: hawks in Washington are willing to invade the Hague to save Israeli officials if they are prosecuted.

Hague Invasion Act Human Rights Watch

Biden administration double standards on the ICC

It is not just Republicans who are threatening the ICC. This is bipartisan in Washington.

The Israeli press reported that, behind the scenes, the Joe Biden administration is also aggressively pressuring the ICC not to issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials.

In 2020, when Donald Trump was in the White House, the ICC opened an investigation into war crimes committed in the war in Afghanistan. The US and NATO forces were included in this inquiry.

In anger, the US government imposed sanctions on the Hague. Trump administration officials even threatened family members of ICC staff.

When Biden came into power in 2021, he sought to differentiate himself from his Republican predecessor. Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly announced the end of the Trump-era sanctions and visa restrictions against ICC personnel.

However, despite the Democratic administration’s claims to support the so-called “rules-based international order”, the Biden White House is now also intimidating ICC staff – if only a bit more quietly and less extravagantly than Trump and the Republicans have done.

The Biden administration furiously opposes any efforts to hold Israeli officials responsible for the war crimes they have committed in Gaza, with US weapons and political support.

This demonstrates Washington’s glaring double standards, as Biden himself had praised the ICC for issuing an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2023.

Secretary of State Blinken urged ICC member states to arrest Putin if he entered their territory. But a year later, he is aggressively pressuring the ICC to stop it from charging Israeli officials.

US and Israel supported Karim Khan as ICC prosecutor

Ironically, it was the US and Israel who had lobbied for the election of Karim Khan as ICC prosecutor.

This is despite the fact that the US and Israel are not state parties to the Rome Statute, and therefore are not members of the ICC.

US and Israeli lobbying paid off. In 2021, Khan entered office as ICC prosecutor, and immediately dropped the investigation into war crimes committed by US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

But today, seven months into Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, the ICC is facing global condemnation for its inaction in the face of what UN experts say is clearly a genocide.

Global South leaders have long denounced the ICC as a colonial institution. Until 2016, only Africans had been tried for the worst crimes at the Court.

Khan is being forced to act, if he hopes to save face and salvage the legitimacy of the ICC. But his former sponsors in the US and Israel have turned against him.

It is not just justice for the Palestinian people, but the reputation of the International Criminal Court itself that is at stake.

Benjamin (Ben) Norton is an investigative journalist and analyst. Ben is the founder and editor of Geopolitical Economy Report. He lived in and reported from Latin America for several years, and is now based in Beijing, China.

( Source: Geopolitical Economy Report )


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