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Blinken says he'll work with US Congress to respond to ICC move on Gaza

May 21, 2024 at 7:26 pm

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington DC, United States on May 21, 2024 [Mostafa Bassim – Anadolu Agency]

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on Tuesday said the Biden administration would be happy to work with Congress to formulate an appropriate response to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor seeking to issue arrest warrants on Israeli leaders over the Gaza war, Reuters reports.

Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Blinken called the move “a profoundly wrong-headed” decision which would complicate the prospects of reaching a hostage deal and a ceasefire in Israel’s conflict with the Palestinian group, Hamas.

ICC Prosecutor, Karim Khan, said on Monday he had reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Defence chief and three Hamas leaders “bear criminal responsibility for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

Washington roundly criticised Khan’s announcement, arguing the Court does not have jurisdiction over the Gaza conflict and raising concerns over process.

The United States is not a member of the Court, but has supported past prosecutions, including the ICC’s decision last year to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President, Vladimir Putin, over the war in Ukraine.

“We’ll be happy to work with Congress, with this committee, on an appropriate response” to the ICC move, Blinken said on Tuesday.

He did not say what a response to the ICC move might include.

Republican members of Congress have threatened legislation to impose sanctions on the ICC, but a measure cannot become law without support from President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats, who control the Senate.

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump’s administration accused the ICC of infringing on US national sovereignty when it authorised an investigation into war crimes committed in Afghanistan. The US targeted Court staff, including then-Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, with asset freezes and travel bans.

READ: Israel urges ‘civilised nations’ to spurn arrest warrants for its leaders