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2 May, 2024 09:12

Israel issues ICC ultimatum – Axios

The Jewish state has reportedly said it will punish Palestine if the court pursues its leaders
Israel issues ICC ultimatum – Axios

Israel has warned the US that it will punish the Palestinian Authority and cause its collapse if the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues arrest warrants for the Jewish state’s leaders, Axios reported on Thursday.

Several media outlets reported last month that the ICC could charge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several other top-ranking officials with war crimes over the ongoing military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Israel launched its massive offensive following the October 7 attack by the radical group, which claimed the lives of around 1,200 Israelis. The response by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the densely populated Palestinian enclave has come under increasing scrutiny and has been widely criticized – even by the country’s US and European allies.

According to Gaza authorities, Israeli strikes have killed more than 34,000 people, mostly civilians. In January, the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that it was “plausible” that Israeli forces had committed genocide in the enclave.

According to Israeli and US officials who spoke to Axios reporter Barak Ravid, the Israeli government told the Biden administration that, if arrest warrants are issued, it will consider the Palestinian Authority responsible and will retaliate with strong action against it.

One possible measure could be to freeze the transfer of tax revenues that Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority, Axios has claimed. Without these funds, the Palestinian Authority would go bankrupt, it added.

Another possible course of action would be “an official decision to punish the Palestinian Authority, which could lead to its collapse,” a senior Israeli official told Axios.

The country’s leadership believes the threat of ICC arrest warrants to be real, the publication added. The outlet did not specify what action was under consideration by Israel.

According to Axios, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Joe Biden last week to stop the ICC from pursuing him, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and IDF chief of staff Herzi Halevi. The Biden administration reportedly conveyed to ICC officials that arrest warrants against the Israeli leaders would be a mistake.

Launched in 2021, the ICC’s investigation focuses on alleged war crimes committed by the Israeli military and Palestinian militant groups in the West Bank and Gaza since 2014, when Israel fought a month-long war against Hamas.

Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, and does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction. However, should a warrant in Netanyahu’s name be issued, his travel could be restricted, as the 124 countries that recognize the court may consider themselves obliged to arrest him.