Will the ICC Issue Arrest Warrants for Israeli Officials and Why?

Will the ICC issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials? (Design: Palestine Chronicle)

By Robert Inlakesh

If the ICC is planning the imminent issuance of arrest warrants, this could be a move that saves the credibility of both Karim Khan and the ICC as a whole.

According to a report that was published on Israel’s Channel 12 News, the International Criminal Court (ICC) could soon issue arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in addition to other military and political leaders.

If true, this would represent a shocking turn of events at the inaction of the court over the past six months.

‘Emergency Meeting’

On Tuesday, an “emergency meeting” occurred at the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), attended by government ministers and legal experts, to discuss strategies to fight and prevent the issuance of arrest warrants for high ranking Israeli officials.

Tel Aviv reportedly believes the arrest warrants could be announced imminently and according to Israeli media reports, Benjamin Netanyahu even raised concerns to British Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, and Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, in a meeting that occurred earlier this week.

Israel Fears ICC Arrest Warrants over Gaza War Crimes – What We Know So Far

South Africa recently filed its case, accusing Israel of committing violations of the Genocide convention, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which deals with crimes committed at the level of State. While the unanimous decision of the ICJ’s judges recognized that there is a plausible case of Israel committing Genocide in Gaza, the final ruling of the court could take many years.

However, the International Criminal Court (ICC), governed by the Rome Statute, is the highest legal body in the world that is capable of handing out individual arrest warrants for individuals involved in violations of international law.

While the ICC officially opened a probe into what it called possible war crimes, committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in March of 2021, dismay has been expressed by a number of think tanks and legal experts over the past 6 months, after no solid action appears to have been taken by the court.

One month prior to the war in Gaza, the US-based think tank, Arab Center Washington DC, expressed that despite a “professed desire to improve the credibility of the court”, “little has been done” by the ICC’s Prosecutor, Karim Khan.

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Double Standards

Since 2021, Israel has stated that it would “not cooperate” with the ICC’s investigation into war crimes committed in the occupied territories, asserting that as a non-signatory nation to the Rome Statute, the court has no jurisdiction.

When I put this point to International Lawyer, Stanley Cohen, back in October, he told me that the court does indeed have jurisdiction, which is the position that the ICC itself concluded. Cohen also made the following point in a separate interview: 

“They returned an indictment against Putin on the basis of ex parte claims, certainly probable cause, within four days. In the case of Israel you’ve had nine years to find, investigate and corroborate systemic violations of international law, the violation of the law of war, human rights violations, collective punishment, violations of the humanitarian code, crimes against humanity. War crimes.”

These sorts of questions have been posed frequently since October 7, as to why ICC Prosecutor, Karim Khan, had not taken any action amid clear cut cases of war crimes committed in Gaza. Khan did place himself in front of the cameras in Cairo, Egypt, in late October.

Yet the Prosecutor decided to spend most of his press conference lecturing Hamas on Islamic values and drawing conclusions on what transpired during the October 7 offensive operation, while refraining from taking any condemnatory tone when speaking addressing Israeli actions in Gaza. He did, however, state that impeding the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip could give rise to “criminal responsibility”.

‘Utmost Urgency’ – ICC’s Khan Seeks to Accelerate Investigation in Palestine

To make things worse, it was unwittingly revealed that Karim Khan had traveled to Palestine-Israel and was centering Israeli victimhood. Only after it was publicly revealed that he had presence in the country, would he emerge and schedule meetings in the occupied West Bank with the likes of Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas, yet his requests to meet with Palestinian Human Rights groups were rejected due to their reluctance to allow Khan to save face after having poorly handled his visit.

The Director General of the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), Ammar Al-Dwaik, said at the time that “the way this visit has been handled shows that Mr Khan is not handling his work in an independent and professional manner.”

Disappeared from the Scene

After this event, Karim Khan seemingly disappeared from the scene, as Palestinian human rights advocates expressed their displeasure with an apparent inactivity of the ICC in addressing Israel’s actions.

Mexico Joins Chile in Referring Israel to the ICC – BREAKING

Not only have countless reports by human rights and legal groups, in addition to the documentation of crimes by different UN bodies and international media, provided evidence for an ever growing list of Israeli war crimes, Israel has also ignored a UN security council resolution and provision measures ordered upon it by the ICJ. 

If the ICC is planning the imminent issuance of arrest warrants for Israeli political and military officials, this would not only be a major step towards reaching accountability for Tel Aviv’s actions in Gaza, but it could also be a move that saves the credibility of both Karim Khan and the ICC as a whole.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. He focuses on the Middle East, specializing in Palestine. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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1 Comment

  1. Otherwise we’ll conclude Karim Khan’s a firm follower of the cowardice of his own convictions.

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