The United States indicates its support for imposing sanctions on Israel due to the International Criminal Court orders

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Comment on the photo, Protesters disrupted Anthony Blinken’s testimony before the US Senate on Tuesday

  • author, Sam Cabral
  • Role, BBC News
  • Report from Washington

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested he would work with lawmakers on possible sanctions against the International Criminal Court as its prosecutor seeks to issue arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials.

Blinken told a congressional hearing that he was “committed” to taking action against the “deeply wrong decision.”

His comments come amid a Republican push to impose sanctions on ICC officials, which could see a vote as soon as this week.

The United States is not a member of the court but has supported previous prosecutions, including the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine.

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday, its top Republican, James Risch, asked whether Blinken would support legislation to address the ICC “interfering in the affairs of countries that have an independent, legitimate, and democratic judiciary.”

The Secretary of State said: “We want to work with you on a bipartisan basis to find the appropriate response. I am committed to doing so.”

“There is no doubt that we have to look at the appropriate steps to take to deal with the very wrong decision again,” Blinken said.

Khan also seeks to issue arrest warrants against three Hamas officials: Yahya Al-Sinwar, its leader in Gaza, Muhammad Deif, the commander of the military wing of the Al-Qassam Brigades, and Ismail Haniyeh, the head of its political bureau.

US President Joe Biden said on Monday that applying for arrest warrants was “outrageous.” He added, “There is no equality between Israel and Hamas.”

Blinken’s statements reflected the broader opposition in Washington to the court’s decision.

At least two measures to impose sanctions on the ICC have already been introduced in Congress as the court intensifies its investigations into Israel’s handling of the war in Gaza.

Support on Capitol Hill appears to be gathering around a bill launched by Republican Chip Roy of Texas earlier this month.

The Anti-Mistrial Court Act targets ICC officials involved in the case by denying them entry to the United States, revoking any current US visas they hold, and prohibiting them from conducting any real estate transactions within the country — unless the court stops its cases against “protected persons.” For the United States and its allies.

At least 37 lawmakers in the Republican-led House are now co-sponsoring the legislation, including Elise Stefanik, the chamber’s third-ranking Republican.

Stefanik just came to Israel, where she met with Netanyahu, spoke in the Knesset and met with the families of hostages trapped in Gaza.

Andy Barr of Kentucky, another Republican who supports the bill, said continuing to pursue the ICC case against Israel should be “met with the full force of our sanctions.”

But what is less clear is whether Democratic lawmakers will support the effort.

The party’s moderate and liberal wings have grappled with Biden’s Israel policy for months, with young progressive voters pushing the president to more sharply criticize the Netanyahu government’s operations in Gaza.

Ohio’s Greg Landsman, one of the few Democrats who voted last week to overturn Biden’s order on arms shipments to Israel, told the BBC he hoped Congress would issue a bipartisan rebuke of the ICC to “send the strongest message possible.”

“the decision [to seek arrest warrants] He added in a statement: “This will only inflame tensions and divisions, encourage anti-Israel plots, and ultimately undermine the credibility of the International Criminal Court.”

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson urged Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, to sign a letter on Tuesday calling on Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress.

In March, Schumer called for new elections in Israel, but on Monday he described the ICC case as “reprehensible.”

Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the BBC he was unsure about the moves to punish ICC officials.

But Mr. Coons added that he was discussing necessary action with his committee colleagues from both parties.

But some left-wing Democrats have expressed support for the ICC proceedings.

Ilhan Omar, a congresswoman from Minnesota, said the court’s allegations were “important” and the United States should support its work as it has done on previous occasions, including in the Libya case.

“The request for arrest warrants is just the beginning of the judicial process,” she wrote in a statement Monday.

“The ICC has been a functioning court – it has seen convictions, acquittals and dismissals, as we would expect from an impartial and apolitical judiciary.”

It remains unclear whether any efforts to impose sanctions have so far succeeded in mustering the support necessary to advance through the Republican-led House of Representatives or the Democratic-controlled Senate.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday that administration officials were discussing “next steps” with lawmakers.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, watching from around the world in Russia, told reporters that his opponent’s “position and willingness to use sanctions tactics even against the ICC” was “more than curious.”

Additional reporting by Rachel Luker

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