Netanyahu rips Biden over response to ICC arrest warrant

Israeli premier makes rare public criticism of Biden administration, saying he is ‘surprised and disappointed’ White House refuses to back sanctions on ICC.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced a rare public criticism of President Joe Biden Wednesday, after the White House announced its opposition to a Republican-backed bill aimed at sanctioning an international court which issued arrest warrants against senior Israeli leaders.

On May 20th, the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor, British jurist Karim Khan, issued arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three Hamas leaders.

In response, Republican lawmakers drafted sanctions targeting the ICC over its arrest warrants.

The Biden White House had initially signaled its openness to working with congressional Republicans to impose sanctions on the ICC.

On Tuesday, however, the Biden administration announced the president would not sign the Republican-drafted sanctions bill if it passed.

“Sanctions on the ICC are not an effective or appropriate tool to address U.S. concerns,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said.

A day later, Netanyahu expressed his frustration over Biden’s decision, telling Sirius XM’s “The Morgan Ortagus Show” – hosted by former Trump administration spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus – he was “surprised and disappointed” by the White House’s aboutface.

“The United States said that they would, in fact, back the sanctions bill,” Netanyahu said. “I thought that was still the American position because there was bipartisan consensus just a few days ago.”

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“Now you say there’s a question mark, and frankly I’m surprised and disappointed.”

While Netanyahu and the Biden administration have clashed repeatedly over both Israeli domestic policy and the ongoing war in Gaza, hitherto the Israeli premier has refrained from public criticism of the president.

The sanctions included in a bill drafted by lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House range from denying entry visas to members of the ICC and freezing of their American assets.

The United States has in the past sanctioned ICC officials over their investigations of Americans and Israelis over alleged war crimes.

In 2021, the Biden administration terminated a series of sanctions imposed by the Trump White House on the then-ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and a deputy prosecutor, Phakiso Mochochoko.