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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Netanyahu asked Biden to block International Criminal Court – Axios

Media reports suggest the court could charge the Israeli prime minister with war crimes

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked US President Joe Biden to stop the International Criminal Court (ICC) from pursuing him and several other top-ranking Israeli officials, news publisher Axios has claimed. Several media outlets reported last week that the court could charge the Israeli leadership with war crimes over the ongoing military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Israel launched its massive offensive following the deadly October 7 incursion by the radical group’s militants, which claimed the lives of an estimated 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians.

Read more: ICC could issue arrest warrant for Netanyahu this week – NBC

In recent months, the severe response by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the densely populated Palestinian enclave have come under increasing scrutiny and have been broadly criticized – even by the country’s US and European allies.

Read more: Bernie Sanders hits back at Netanyahu over anti-Semitism claims

According to Gaza authorities, Israeli strikes have killed more than 34,000 people, mostly civilians. In January, the United Nation’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a ruling, saying it was “plausible” that Israeli forces had committed acts of genocide in the enclave.

In its article on Monday, Axios, citing two anonymous Israeli officials, claimed that Netanyahu had phoned Biden on Sunday, asking him to wield Washington’s clout and prevent the ICC from issuing arrest warrants.

NBC News, citing an unnamed Israeli official, also claimed on Monday that the ICC could charge Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and unnamed senior military officers, along with the prime minister.

The US network quoted its source as saying that “Israel is working through diplomatic channels to try to stop the warrants being issued.” The ICC did not confirm or deny the report, telling reporters that it “has an ongoing independent investigation in relation to the situation in the State of Palestine.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu insisted on Friday that Israel “will never accept any attempt by the ICC to undermine its inherent right of self-defense.” “The threat to seize the soldiers and officials of the Middle East’s only democracy and the world’s only Jewish state is outrageous. We will not bow to it,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Launched in 2021, the ICC’s investigation focuses on alleged war crimes committed by the Israeli military and Palestinian militant groups in the West Bank and Gaza since 2014, when Israel fought a month-long war against Hamas.

Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute and does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction. However, should a warrant in Netanyahu’s name be issued, his travel could be restricted, as the 124 countries that recognize the court may consider themselves obliged to arrest him.