Calls For Netanyahu’s Arrest Outrageous – Biden

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US President Joe Biden has condemned calls by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the arrest of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders over the war in Gaza, describing it as ‘outrageous’.

The ICC Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, had on Monday said there were reasonable grounds to believe that Netanyahu and his Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant bore criminal responsibility for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

The prosecutor also demanded the arrest of Hamas leaders, Yahaya Sinwar, Khalid Marshall and others, accusing them of masterminding the October 7 massacre in Israel which triggered Israeli military action in Gaza.

In his response to Khan’s call, the US President said there was “no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed the president’s condemnation, saying Washington “fundamentally rejects” the move, saying, “It is shameful,” while declaring that, “[The] ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter.”

Blinken also noted that the request for arrest warrants would jeopardise ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire deal.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister has angrily condemned the ICC Prosecutor for seeking arrest warrants for him alongside the Hamas’ leaders over alleged war crimes in the Gaza conflict.

Netanyahu said he rejected with disgust that “democratic Israel” had been compared to those he called “mass murderers”.

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Israel’s longest-serving prime minister in condemning the application further described it as “an absurd and false order”.

In a public statement in Hebrew, he asked “with what audacity” the ICC would “dare to compare” Hamas and Israel, stressing that the comparison was a “distortion of reality”.

The Israeli PM also accused the prosecutor of “callously pouring gasoline on the fires of antisemitism that are raging across the world”.

Also, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Israel Katz called the move by Mr Khan an “unrestrained frontal assault” on the victims of the 7 October attacks and a “historical disgrace that will be remembered forever.”

On its part, Hamas has also called for “the cancellation of all arrest warrants issued against leaders of the Palestinian resistance”.

“Hamas strongly denounces the attempts of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to equate the victim with the executioner,” the group said.

Hamas also complained that the application for warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant had come “seven months late”, and that other Israeli political and military leaders had not been named alongside them.

The accusations against the Israeli and Hamas leaders stem from the events of 7 October, when waves of Hamas gunmen attacked Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 252 others back to Gaza as hostages.

The attack triggered the current war, in which at least 35,500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

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Khan also applied for arrest warrants for Israeli Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant and Hamas’ political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, along with the group’s military chief, Mohammed Deif.

He said the alleged crimes began “from at least 7 October 2023” in the Hamas leaders’ case, when the group launched its attack on Israel, and “from at least 8 October 2023” for the Israeli leaders.

The ICC defended its stance on Monday, saying that despite “significant efforts,” it had not received “any information that has demonstrated genuine action at the domestic level [in Israel] to address the crimes alleged or the individuals under investigation”.

A panel of judges at the ICC must now consider whether to issue the warrants and, if they do, countries signed up to the ICC statute are obliged to arrest the men if they have such an opportunity.

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