Latest News 20-05-2024 22:02 15 Views

Netanyahu arrest warrant called ‘gift to terrorists’ as pro-Israel lawmakers vow revenge

A top House Republican leader is accusing the International Criminal Court (ICC) of equating Israel's democratically elected government with terror group Hamas after its chief prosecutor petitioned for arrest warrants against top officials in both.

'The ICC's decision to equate Israel with Hamas as a war criminal is a gift to terrorists around the globe and a slap in the face to the only free-standing democracy in the Middle East,' House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the No. 3 House GOP lawmaker, told Fox News Digital. 'There is no comparison between the deliberate killing, raping, and torturing of thousands of innocent civilians and those who are rightfully defending themselves against it.'

He's one of several pro-Israel lawmakers who have called for the ICC to face consequences over the developments. Others are calling for the U.S. to take action directly against the international judicial body.

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said in a statement, 'In the absence of leadership from the White House, Congress is reviewing all options, including sanctions, to punish the ICC and ensure its leadership faces consequences if they proceed. If the ICC is allowed to threaten Israeli leaders, ours could be next.'

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan announced on Monday morning that he believes there are 'reasonable grounds' to accuse Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of 'war crimes and crimes against humanity' in the Gaza strip.

Among the charges Khan listed are the intentional targeting of civilians and 'starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.' 

He's also seeking arrest warrants for Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, top Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, and Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, the head of Hamas's military wing – known as the Al-Qassam Brigades – over the Palestinian liberation group's Oct. 7, 2023, terror attack in Israel.

It's prompted a flurry of outrage from Israel's defenders in Washington, many of whom pointed out that Israel, like the U.S., is not under ICC jurisdiction. The Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, however, joined in 2015.

Emmer went a step further in his condemnation on Monday, declaring, 'It's time for the rest of the world to defund and refuse to recognize any legitimacy from a pro-terrorist international court.'

Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., suggested ICC officials should be banned from setting foot in the U.S. 

'There is no legal or legislative basis for these charges,' he told Fox News Digital, vowing that Congressional Republicans 'will push to end American support for the ICC and bar their officials from entering our country.'

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., urged President Biden to stand up against the Israel arrest warrants.

'The ICC is a sham kangaroo court that's drawing a moral equivalency between our ally Israel and the Hamas terrorists who are currently holding U.S. citizens hostage. This is why I co-sponsored legislation to sanction the ICC if it goes after Americans and our allies,' he told Fox News Digital.

House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who was in Israel meeting with Netanyahu when the news first broke Monday, is also urging Congress to mount a legislative response.

She said her bill would 'punish those in the ICC that made this baseless, undemocratic decision.'

On the other side of Capitol Hill, pro-Israel hawks in the Senate are equally furious.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said the charges against Netanyahu and Gallant are 'politically motivated' and warned, 'My colleagues and I look forward to making sure neither Khan, his associates nor their families will ever set foot again in the United States.'

The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said in a statement, 'Today’s actions have hurt the credibility of the court and seriously harmed legitimate accountability efforts where true war crimes are occurring, like Ukraine, Syria, and across Africa.'

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., accused Khan of lying about his intentions. He said in a statement, 'Prosecutor Khan’s team was supposed to be in Israel today to arrange a meeting for next week with the prosecutor’s office about the allegations. I was told by ICC staff that the investigation would likely take months and not weeks, and that there would be meaningful consultation with the State of Israel. Instead of the ICC following through with scheduled consultations with Israel, they announced the warrants.'

Even Democrats up to the White House condemned the move – President Biden slammed the ICC's warrants against Israel as 'outrageous.'

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., wrote on X, formerly Twitter: 'Requesting arrest warrants for both Israel and Hamas leaders suggests there is a moral equivalence between them – there is none and it’s disgusting to suggest otherwise. The ICC’s credibility is now in shambles and they have only themselves to thank.'                


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