US says sanctioning the ICC 'not the right way' to deal with arrest warrants for Israeli officials

US says sanctioning the ICC 'not the right way' to deal with arrest warrants for Israeli officials
The White House said that it would not seek sanctions against the ICC over arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, following threats from Republicans.
2 min read
29 May, 2024
Kirby reiterated that the US does not support arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant during a White House press briefing [Getty/file photo]

Sanctioning the International Criminal Court because it seeks to issue arrest warrants for top Israeli officials is not the right approach, the White House said Tuesday.

"We don’t believe the ICC has jurisdiction [in this case], so we don’t support these arrest warrants. However, we don’t believe that sanctioning the ICC is the answer," National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said during a press briefing at the White House.

Republicans called for sanctions on the ICC after prosecutor Karim Khan announced last week that the court would seek arrest warrants for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for war crimes in Gaza. Some of them even threatened the families of the prosecutors.

Khan said arrest warrants would also be sought for Hamas officials over the group’s October 7 attack in southern Israel.

The news was welcomed by many countries around the world who wish to see justice for Israel’s brutal offensive in Gaza which has killed over 36,000 people since October last year.

Robert O'Brien, a top foreign policy adviser to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, has said Washington should sanction bank accounts, travel, and place visa restrictions on the court’s prosecutors and judges.

He made the comments after meeting Netanyahu, who had rejected that Israel be compared to Hamas.

While in favour of a legislative response to the ICC, Democrats believe imposing sanctions on court officials was "extreme".

US President Joe Biden is under growing pressure from his base to rein in Netanyahu with mounting casualties in Gaza. Most of the casualties in Gaza have been women and children.

But despite criticism of Israel's conduct in Gaza and its deadly crackdowns in the occupied West Bank, the US has continued to arm Israel and Biden continues to voice unwavering support.