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Germany would implement ICC arrest warrants against Israel

May 23, 2024 at 5:18 pm

Spokesperson of the German Government Steffen Hebestreit answers the questions of press members in Berlin, Germany on June 10, 2022. [Abdulhamid Hoşbaş – Anadolu Agency]

Germany will detain Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant if the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues arrest warrants for the pair, a spokesman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said yesterday.

Asked by reporters in Berlin if Germany would execute an ICC warrant against Netanyahu and Gallant, Steffen Hebestreit replied: “Of course. Yes, we abide by the law.”

Hebestreit stated that this was a hypothetical question and said: “In principle, we support the ICC and it will remain that way.”

“Supporting in principle means taking the ICC’s decisions seriously and implementing them.”

Germany said Monday that it “respects the independence and procedures” of the ICC while noting that it has some concerns.

Highlighting that the pre-trial chamber of the ICC now has to decide on the chief prosecutor’s applications for the issuance of arrest warrants, the German Foreign Ministry said “the court will have to answer a number of difficult questions, including the question of its jurisdiction and the complementarity of investigations between constitutional states affected, such as Israel.”

“The simultaneous application for arrest warrants against Hamas leaders on the one hand and two Israeli officials [Netanyahu and Gallant] on the other has created the incorrect impression of equivalency,” it added.

Germany remains one of the strongest supporters of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza despite growing public pressure. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly said that Germany bears special responsibility for Israel because of its Nazi history.

Berlin has been accused of being complicit in genocide by many prominent figures, including politicians and academics as well as rights groups.

In March, Nicaragua filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Germany, accusing it of facilitating genocide against Palestinians in Gaza by providing political and military support to Israel. It asked the court to impose emergency measures to order Germany to stop providing Israel with arms and other assistance and to resume its funding of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

The ICJ rejected the case, though it expressed concern over the “catastrophic living conditions in Gaza.”

On Monday, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said he has reasonable grounds to believe that Netanyahu and Gallant bear criminal responsibility for “war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed on Palestinian territories, specifically in the Gaza Strip, from at least October last year.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the ICJ, which has ordered it to ensure that its forces do not commit acts of genocide and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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