June 5, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. House of Representatives Votes for Sanctions Against International Criminal Court

June 5, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. House of Representatives Votes for Sanctions Against International Criminal Court

Latest Developments

The U.S. House of Representatives voted by a comfortable majority on June 4 to impose sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) following its prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. The vote was 247-155, “with nearly every Republican and a few dozen Democrats voting for it,” NBC News reported. Despite White House opposition, 42 Democrats backed the measure, demonstrating strong bipartisan support for pressure on the ICC.

Under the legislation, sanctions would be imposed on ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan and other officials associated with the case, blocking financial transfers and preventing the officials from entering the United States. A bipartisan letter from 24 legislators to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen described the charges against the Israeli leaders as “baseless,” reflecting “the ICC’s well-documented historical bias against Israel.” The letter urged the Biden administration to “consult with Congress to immediately impose sanctions against the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan and any other officials who have demonstrated undue bias in their actions.”

Expert Analysis

“This week’s bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives is a significant rebuke of the ICC’s overreach and abuse of power. It also sends a clear signal to the Biden administration that its so-called ‘reset’ with the ICC should come to an end, as such engagements have failed to moderate the court’s extremist tactics or rein in its baseless and politicized prosecutions.” — Nick Stewart, Senior Director of Government Relations at FDD Action

“Those pushing for illegitimate and baseless indictments have made clear that the United States is next. We need to use all tools available to stop this kangaroo court from waging lawfare against the United States and democratic allies like Israel.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Biden Administration Opposed to ICC Sanctions

On May 20, Khan announced that he was seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant as well as Hamas terrorist leaders Ismail Haniyeh, Muhammad Diab Ibrahim al-Masri (more commonly known as Muhammad Deif), and Yahya Sinwar, the main architect of the Hamas massacre in southern Israel on October 7. The applications were filed with the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber I, whose judges must decide whether the evidentiary threshold for issuing warrants has been met. In response, Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin denounced what he called “one of the greatest moral disgraces in human history,” emphasizing that its purpose is “to deny Israel the right of self-defense.” Separately, President Joe Biden called the warrant request “outrageous” and Secretary Blinken questioned the investigation’s “legitimacy and credibility.” The legislation passed by the House faces an uncertain future in the Senate given Biden’s statement on June 3 that while Washington is “deeply concerned about the ICC Prosecutor’s heedless rush to apply for arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials,” it opposes sanctioning “the ICC, its personnel, its judges, or those who assist its work.” While the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat Ben Cardin, opposes the House bill, he has expressed an openness to backing a bipartisan compromise to impose consequences on the ICC.

“Israel and U.S. Outraged by ICC Warrant Applications for Israeli Leaders,” FDD Flash Brief

Possible Arrest Warrants for Israeli Leaders Expose the Utter Perversity of the International Criminal Court,” by Orde Kittrie

“U.S. Legislators Push Back Against Possible ICC Warrants for Israeli Officials,” FDD Flash Brief

“Israeli Officials Hold Emergency Meeting to Discuss Possible ICC Arrest Warrants,” FDD Flash Brief


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