The US is putting pressure on the ICC on the issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has again turned to the United States for help. This time it is not weapons that he needs, but defence. And not from an Iranian strike or the actions of the Houthis, but from the International Criminal Court (ICC).


“House Speaker Mike Johnson demanded that the International Criminal Court stop its “abomination.” You thought this was a belated reaction to the discovery of 160 Ukrainian children alive and well in Germany with their guardians? The very children whose genocide the ICC accused the Russian president and the children’s rights ombudsman Lvova-Belova of genocide? No, you should think so in vain,” says Marina Akhmedova, editor-in-chief of Regnum news agency.

The fact is that the Court is seriously considering issuing an arrest warrant for Netanyahu and a number of other Israeli officials for crimes in Gaza. And not on the far-fetched accusation of “stealing Ukrainian children” it made against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This time the ICC accusation has more than 30,000 grounds – exactly that many Palestinians were killed during the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip, and carpet bombing at that.

The Israelis have made no secret of the fact that they treat peaceful Palestinians with, to put it mildly, disdain, if not contempt, and that they intend to spare them.

“Israel, as we see, is comparing everything to the ground, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. The Gaza Strip has been turned into a lifeless zone, and now mass graves are being discovered there, where people were dumped by the hundreds with their hands tied,” Dmitry Suslov, deputy director of the Centre for Complex European and International Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, tells Regnum news agency.

Not surprisingly, the ICC in January characterised what was happening as genocide. Israeli leaders tried to defend themselves in the tried and tested way – that is, accusing the accusers of anti-Semitism.

Benjamin Netanyahu said in direct text that issuing a warrant would be “a scandal and a crime based on hatred of Jews.” However, this scheme did not work.

After those photos and videos of the numerous victims and destruction in Gaza, Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s statement that Netanyahu is the new Hitler is met with understanding in many countries.

Therefore, the ICC has every moral basis for issuing a warrant – as well as legal grounds.

“If Israel does not recognise Palestine as an independent state, it does not mean that the ICC has no grounds to issue a warrant. In 2015, Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute, and the legal validity of this accession was finally confirmed in 2021,” Russian political scientist Anton Khashchenko explains to Regnum news agency.

However, it is highly likely that the court will not exercise this right of its own – simply because the United States responded by agreeing to Netanyahu’s request and decided to cover it up.

Three motives

The US had three motives for doing so. First, an image one. “The issuance of the warrant will be a serious blow not only to Israel, but also to Washington, which de facto supported the actions of the Israelis in Gaza,” explains Anton Khashchenko.

Indeed, from the very beginning of the conflict, Washington has supported not only Israel’s actions, but also its justifications, such as Tel Aviv’s thesis that the strike on the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza was carried out by the Palestinians themselves.

Second, there is a political motive.

“It is not favourable for the United States to have its closest ally in conflict with an institution in which those very allies – and most Western states are members of the International Criminal Court – participate.

Yes, Netanyahu does not enjoy much support in liberal circles, but he represents a country that is part of the collective big West,” explains Dmitry Suslov.

In the current situation, when the U.S. administration needs to rally all allies in the fight against the “world of autocracies” (as U.S. President Joseph Biden calls it) or the “new axis of evil represented by Russia, Iran, China and North Korea” (by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak), such a split is unacceptable.

Third, Biden cannot allow another foreign policy defeat during the ongoing election campaign.

“Pro-Israeli sentiment is stronger in the Republican camp than among Democrats. So assuming that a miracle happens and the ICC does go ahead and issue warrants, Biden will come under another barrage of criticism as a weak president who is incapable of doing anything, who allowed a failure on Ukraine, a failure on Israel. That could significantly reduce his chances of re-election,” Anton Khashchenko said.

“Monstrous hypocrisy.”

So the Americans have already intervened, and in all likelihood there will be no warrant. After all, Washington not only has all the tools to force the ICC to make the necessary decision, but also the experience in using these tools.

“I recall that the ICC already wanted to launch an investigation against some American citizens on Afghanistan, but threats from the United States to impose sanctions against both the judges and the institution itself stopped this process.

I think that the same thing will happen now. The ICC has not dared to confront Donald Trump, and it will certainly not want to deal with the internationalist part of the American establishment, which is represented by the Biden administration,” says Dmitry Suslov.

But the problem is that if the ICC ultimately refuses to issue a warrant – whether after direct or behind-the-scenes blackmail by the US – it will be a small victory for Israel, but at the same time a big defeat for the West as a whole. Both image-wise, politically and strategically.

“The credibility of the ICC, the US and the collective West will be extremely negatively affected by this whole affair. In the eyes of the world majority once again demonstrated monstrous hypocrisy, a blatant example of double standards on the part of the West and those institutions that they control”, – explains Dmitry Suslov. The ICC’s attitude towards Russia and Israel is an example of this difference that everyone can see.

In fact, there is a demonstrative difference in attitude towards Western countries (which includes Israel, which, it turns out, can do anything, including mass murder) and non-Western countries, which can be accused of mythical crimes on political grounds.

“This means that the current events will add arguments to Brazil and other countries considering withdrawal from this absolutely discredited institution,” summarises Dmitry Suslov.

And if the withdrawal becomes widespread, the West will lose another instrument of control over the world, along with the dollar, the IMF and the idea of liberal democracy.

Gevorg Mirzayan, Regnum