Germany vows to arrest Netanyahu upon next visit

Berlin vows to enforce ICC arrest warrants against Israeli prime minister and defense minister, rejecting overtures from Jerusalem.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could face immediate arrest if he were to travel to Germany, a senior German official said Wednesday.

Steffen Hebestreit, a senior spokesman for the German government and head of the country’s press information office, responded to questions Wednesday whether Germany would enforce the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court this week against Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

“Of course,” Hebestreit said. “Yes, we abide by the law.”

A day earlier, Israeli Ambassador to Germany Ron Prosor called on Berlin to reject ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan’s decision to issue arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant, alongside similar warrants for three senior Hamas leaders.

“This is outrageous,” tweeted Prosor. “The German ‘Staatsräson'” – literally “reason for the state,”  referring to Germany’s support for Israel’s safety – is now being put to the test—no ifs or buts.”

“This contrasts with the weak statements we hear from some institutions and political actors. The public statement that Israel has the right to self-defense loses credibility if our hands are tied as soon as we defend ourselves.”

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“The Chief Prosecutor equates a democratic government with Hamas, thereby demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and the Jewish people.”

“He has completely lost his moral compass. Germany has a responsibility to readjust this compass. This disgraceful political campaign could become a nail in the coffin for the West and its institutions. Do not let it come to that!”

In contrast to Germany, a number of other European states condemned the ICC’s decision this week.

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne rejected the “equivalence” between Hamas and Israel implied by the decision.

“These simultaneous requests for arrest warrants should not create an equivalence between Hamas and Israel,” Sejourne told French parliamentarians Tuesday.

Petr Fiala, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, denounced Khan’s decision as “appalling and completely unacceptable,” while Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk called the ICC’s move “unacceptable.”