In a decisive move, the U.S. House passed a Republican-led bill on Tuesday, imposing sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the court’s recommendation of war crimes charges against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The bill, known as the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act, was sponsored by Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy and saw a 247 to 155 vote in its favor, with 42 Democrats breaking ranks to support the legislation amid opposition from the White House.

The legislation mandates sanctions and visa restrictions against any foreign entities that aid the ICC in prosecuting the U.S., Israel, or any other non-member U.S. ally. This legislative action comes shortly after Karim Khan, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, initiated applications for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, citing “reasonable grounds to believe” they were responsible for “war crimes and crimes against humanity” in Gaza, via CNN. Among the alleged crimes were the starvation of civilians and intentional attacks against civilian populations.

Additionally, Khan has sought the arrest of Hamas leaders Yehya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh, holding them accountable for the deaths of numerous Israeli civilians and other serious charges including hostage-taking and rape.

Netanyahu, in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” labeled the ICC’s actions as “absurd” and a “hit job.” He stated, “These are fallacious charges. I think that they cast a terrible stain on the ICC.” The move by the ICC has drawn criticism from across the U.S. political spectrum. President Joe Biden has particularly criticized the request for warrants against Israeli leaders, emphasizing that there is “no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.”

The White House expressed deep concerns regarding the ICC’s measures but ultimately conveyed strong opposition to the bill, highlighting that “there are more effective ways to defend Israel, preserve U.S. positions on the ICC, and promote international justice and accountability.” The administration expressed its readiness to collaborate with Congress on alternative strategies, though it stopped short of threatening a veto.

During a press briefing earlier on the day of the vote, Speaker Mike Johnson emphasized the necessity of the bill: “President Biden ought to recognize the danger of letting them pursue these illegitimate investigations and the need to sanction the ICC in response.”

The United States and Israel do not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC, reinforcing their stance with this latest legislative effort.



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