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Israel council discusses avoiding ICC arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Gallant, Halevi

April 25, 2024 at 9:29 am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant (2nd R) promote the new army chief of staff Herzi Halevi to the rank of Lieutenant-General in Jerusalem, on January 16, 2023. [Photo by MAYA ALLERUZZO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

The Israeli National Security Council (NSC) yesterday held a secret session during which it discussed the possibility that international arrest warrants could be issued against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Galant and Army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi “in the coming days”.

According to Israel’s Channel 13, Israel’s National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi chaired the meeting, in which arrest warrants for other officials were also discussed. They decided to take a series of measures, including launching a diplomatic pressure campaign and activating Israel’s international tools to prevent the International Criminal Court (ICC) from issuing arrest warrants.

They outlined several immediate measures that Israel must take to confront this potential step, including launching a political campaign at the international level in an attempt to thwart any ICC action.

The “immediate measures” approved by the NSC include phone calls between Netanyahu and his counterparts around the world, putting pressure on the US administration and involving the Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Michael Herzog, in these efforts.

“Based on the information and indicators available to senior officials in Israel, there is a possibility that the International Criminal Court in The Hague will issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Gallant and Halevi,” the report said.

According to Channel 13, Israeli officials predict that “the potential arrest warrants, if issued, are expected to target policy makers at the military and political levels [referring to high-ranking officials], and not junior officers.”

Channel 13 reported that Israel has already begun “immediate measures” that it decided to take in an attempt to prevent the issuance of arrest warrants. Yesterday, Netanyahu held telephone conversations with his counterparts in the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Austria, urging them to exert political pressure on the court in favour of Israel.

The Minister of Strategic Affairs, Ron Dermer, and the Israeli ambassador to Washington also held talks with officials in President Joe Biden’s administration and members of Congress. In addition to this, the channel noted that there has been “enormous pressure on the American administration to intervene on behalf of Israel” in this issue.

High-ranking Israeli officials said that if implemented, this “brings to mind the measures taken against Russia and its President [Vladimir] Putin.”

The report stated that the Israeli Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs, or the State Security Cabinet, which is scheduled to meet today, will discuss this issue, including additional measures that could be taken in an attempt to block the possible action.

READ: Israel media: Netanyahu fears arrest warrants, requests assistance from UK, Germany