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Arrest warrant against Netanyahu, Gallant: Israel is becoming a 'pariah state', says expert

May 22, 2024 at 4:30 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant attend a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on October 28, 2023 [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

With the request by International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Karim Khan, for an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, Israel is becoming a “pariah state”, a geopolitical analyst said, Anadolu Agency reports.

“Israel is only becoming (a) pariah state, not only among all societies in the West but also among the ruling elites. “And I think that this arrest warrant is adding to that,” Neve Gordon, a professor at Queen Mary University of London’s Faculty of Law, Department of International Law and Human Rights, told Anadolu.

Following rumours in the Israeli media and threats from some US officials to prevent such a decision, ICC Prosecutor, Karim Khan, announced on Monday that he had applied for an “arrest warrant” against Netanyahu and Gallant.

The application accuses the two Israeli figures of “using hunger as a weapon of war” and “not allowing humanitarian aid passages”.

READ: ICC arrest warrants would bar Netanyahu, Gallant from 124 countries

It was reported that there are “reasonable grounds to believe that Netanyahu and Gallant bear criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip since at least 8 October, 2023.”

Gordon said the ICC’s 124 member states are legally obligated to apprehend anyone subject to an arrest warrant issued by the top world court, adding that he expects these countries to carry out the arrests.

Arrest warrants are only valid if the individuals in question travel from one country to another and both countries are members of the ICC, he said, noting that the US is not a party to the ICC.

In response to threats of sanctions by some Republican Senators in the US in case of arrest warrants, Gordon said: “I doubt that will fly in the US Congress and Senate. I think it was more a kind of performative by the Senators.”

The geopolitical analyst expects the Israeli Foreign Ministry, intelligence officials, lawyers and diplomats will act against the arrest warrants.

Khan referred the application for an “arrest warrant” against Netanyahu and Gallant to the Pre-Trial Chamber for review, Gordon said, explaining that at this point, the appropriateness of issuing the arrest warrant will be assessed.

“From past experience, we know that the Prosecution does not submit warrants that are not robust in terms of the evidence that is provided,” he said.

He expressed his optimism that the application would result in a positive outcome, saying, “I think the arrest warrant will be approved. “It can take a number of days but it can also take a number of weeks.”

The Pre-Trial Chamber will issue the arrest warrants “fairly soon”, he said.

Emphasising that the application made by Khan is significant for two reasons, Gordon said it sends a message that the individuals pursued by the ICC are not only African leaders or enemies of the West.

“It also is an ally of the West that it’s going after a major ally of the US and of the UK and of Germany and France,” he said, adding, “It’s a milestone in terms of the ICC.”

He also underscored the decision’s significance, saying: “I think Gallant and Netanyahu will be unable to travel to countries that are signatories of the ICC.”

Investigation ongoing for 3 years

Gordon pointed out that the ICC Prosecutor’s Office opened the investigation into Palestine in 2021, and that the probe has been ongoing for three years.

“What we see in terms of the reasons for the arrest warrant on starvation, not allowing humanitarian aid in the reasons are actually very similar to the case made through the application of South Africa to the ICJ.

“What I think has happened is that, following South Africa’s application, the ICC understood that it can no longer sit on the fence and that it has to do something,” he added.

Referring to Khan’s statement, Gordon said: “What is interesting about the statement made by Khan, is that the accusation against Netanyahu and Gallant are not harassing that can be traced back to 2021 and 2022, but attacking what has been going on in the Gaza Strip in the eight months.”

He added, “I actually think that genocide is everywhere in this arrest warrant; they might not be using the word genocide. But the same complaints that were brought forth by the South African application to be also in this warrant.”

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