Written by 04:14 World

Biden and Blinken Accuse ICC Prosecutor of Falsely Equating Israel and Hamas

President Biden on Monday condemned the decision by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor to seek arrest warrants for two top Israeli officials — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant — when he requested warrants for the leaders of Hamas, saying in a White House statement that “whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.”

Mr. Biden’s decision to stand firmly behind Mr. Netanyahu was echoed by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who called the move by the prosecutor, Karim Khan, “shameful” in a statement that said the United States rejected his “equivalence of Israel with Hamas.”

Mr. Blinken accused Mr. Khan of going “on cable television to announce the charges” even as his staff canceled a planned visit to Israel to discuss the I.C.C.’s inquiry into Israel’s conduct of the war. “These and other circumstances call into question the legitimacy and credibility of this investigation,” he said.

“It is shameful,” Mr. Blinken said of the prosecutor’s decision to request warrants for leaders of both sides in the conflict, implying their equivalence. “Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that carried out the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and is still holding dozens of innocent people hostage, including Americans. This decision does nothing to help, and could jeopardize, ongoing efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement that would get hostages out and surge humanitarian assistance in.”

The forceful denunciation of the I.C.C. came, however, amid increasing tensions between the United States and Mr. Netanyahu over Israel’s conduct of the war and its preparations for a major offensive into Rafah, a city packed with displaced Palestinians in southern Gaza. Mr. Biden has repeatedly warned Mr. Netanyahu not to take actions that would endanger the hundreds of thousands of civilians sheltering there.

Mr. Biden and other administration officials have criticized the Israeli bombardment and invasion of Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led assault as causing more casualties and physical destruction than necessary. But Mr. Biden has also said he will not abandon Israel, and has insisted that Mr. Netanyahu and the country’s leaders have a right to defend their people against threats of terrorism.

The United States has said in the past that the I.C.C. does not have jurisdiction in the conflict in Israel, which is not a member of the court. In his statement, Mr. Blinken called it a “court of limited jurisdiction” and criticized it for a “rush to seek these arrest warrants.”

Hours later, Mr. Blinken’s spokesman at the State Department, Matthew Miller, went further, saying in a press briefing in Washington that “I don’t have any doubt” that the issuing of arrest warrants for the Israeli leaders “will embolden Hamas.”


Last modified: 22 May 2024