Israel to 'punish' PA if ICC issues arrest warrants against its officials

Israel to 'punish' PA if ICC issues arrest warrants against its officials
Israel has warned the US that the Palestinian Authority will be punished and could face collapse if the ICC issues arrest warrants against Israeli leaders.
3 min read
02 May, 2024
Israel has warned the US they will punish the Palestinian Authority if arrest warrants are issued against Israeli leaders [Getty]

The Israeli government has told the US that if the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues arrest warrants against Israeli leaders, it will take retaliatory steps against the Palestinian Authority (PA), two Israeli and US officials have told Axios.

Last month, it was reported that the ICC was preparing to issue arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant as well as other Israeli officials.

The arrest warrants are based on possible war crimes carried out by Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters dating back to 2014 and also include the 7 October attack on Israel as well as Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza.

The arrest warrants have caused widespread anxiety and concern among Israeli officials who met to discuss it last week, while Netanyahu has also been leading a "nonstop push over the telephone" to prevent the arrest warrant from being issued.

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According to Axios, over the last few weeks Israel has told the US that it has information which suggests PA officials were "pressing" the ICC prosecutor to issue arrest warrants against Israeli leaders.

Two Israeli and US officials reportedly said that if the arrest warrants are issued, Israel will consider the PA responsible and retaliate with strong action that could lead to its collapse.

One of the possible actions taken could be freezing the transfer of tax revenues Israel collects for the PA, which would leave them bankrupt.

A senior Israeli official also told Axios the threat of the arrest warrant is serious, and if it happens, the Israeli cabinet would make an official decision to punish the PA which could lead to its collapse.

Two US officials said the Biden administration have told the ICC in private that arrest warrants against Israeli leaders would be a mistake, and the US does not support the action, Axios reported.

"We are quietly encouraging the ICC not to do it. It will blow up everything. Israel will retaliate against the Palestinian Authority," a US official said.

Israeli news site Walla has reported that Netanyahu has been under "unusual stress" over the arrest warrants and Israeli officials are scrambling to garner support of other Western allies.

If arrest warrants are issued, all 123 ICC countries will be obliged to detain and hand over the Israeli officials to the court, which has its headquarters in the Hague.

Netanyahu insists the ICC ruling would not impact Israel’s war on Gaza, which has killed over 34,000 Palestinians so far.

"Under my leadership, Israel will never accept any attempt by the International Criminal Court in the Hague to undermine its basic right to defend itself," Netanyahu said in a statement on Telegram last week.

"While decisions made by the court in the Hague will not affect Israel's actions, they will set a dangerous precedent that threatens soldiers and public figures," he added.

Israel has faced repeated accusations from international bodies and human rights experts that its war in Gaza is breaching international law.

Israel has bombed schools, hospitals, residential areas, and civilian concentrations while imposing a complete siege on Gaza, where the 2.3 million population is facing widespread hunger, disease, and displacement.

The case at the ICC is separate from the genocide case brought by South Africa to the International Court of Justice at the end of 2023. The ICJ is also based in The Hauge.