House Passes Bill Seeking to Sanction ICC

( – House lawmakers have advanced legislation to sanction the International Criminal Court (ICC) in response to its requests for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. The 9-3 vote along party lines saw the Rules Committee advance the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act, which was sponsored by Republican Texas Representative Chip Roy. The House floor passed the bill on June 4 in a 247-155 vote.

The bill seeks to impose sanctions similar to those that former President Donald Trump placed on the ICC, of which neither the U.S. nor Israel are members, in 2020. The Trump administration’s sanctions applied to ICC employees, officials, and associates who attempted to detain, arrest, investigate, or prosecute the citizens of the U.S. or its allies that have neither joined the ICC nor granted it jurisdiction. President Joe Biden revoked the sanctions when he entered the White House.

In May, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, announced the requests for arrest warrants in addition to those for Hamas leaders. Neither side in the conflict was happy with the recommendation; Netanyahu rejected the comparison of Tel Aviv’s “democratic” regime to Hamas “terrorists,” and Hamas took offense at the ICC equating the “executioner” with the “victim.” Crimes the prosecutor accused Israel’s government of committing include using starvation as a weapon of war, extermination, murder, and intentionally directing attacks toward civilian populations.

Biden rejected the ICC’s request, calling it “outrageous,” and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that the ICC lacked the required jurisdiction, despite Palestine being an ICC member. In spite of strong opposition from progressive Democrats, such as Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, who has slated the president for allegedly greenlighting massacres in Gaza, Biden denied that Israel’s assault on the region amounted to genocide.

The ICC’s request divided European leaders; Belgium, France, and Slovenia supported holding both sides accountable for any violations of international law committed. Germany also said it would comply with an arrest warrant issued. U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak argued, however, that the decision was counterproductive in working towards a ceasefire in the region.

The sanctions highlight a push by the GOP to reaffirm its support for Israel as the country approaches the November election. Though Trump has vowed to clamp down harshly on Pro-Palestine protesters and even deport foreign protesters, he recently vowed to end the war in Gaza.

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