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US makes telling response to ICC move: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-05-21 20:54

Photo taken on Oct 28, 2021 shows the White House in Washington, DC, the United States. [Photo/Xinhua]

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor sought arrest warrants on Monday for the leaders of Israel and Hamas on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity as a result of their actions during the seven-month war in Gaza.

A panel of three judges will decide whether to issue arrest warrants that will enable the case to proceed. That decision-making process typically takes two months.

Those feeling encouraged that the move might help prompt an early end to the bloodshed in Gaza should realize that since neither Israel nor Hamas is a member of the court, even if the arrest warrants are issued, none of those named will face any immediate risk of prosecution, but only difficulties in traveling to the 124 countries that are States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Worse, judging from the don't-worry-about-that signal the United States has sent Israel, the move might even serve the opposite to its intended purpose by making the Benjamin Netanyahu government even more determined to adhere to its current course of action.

"No pressure and no decision in any international forum will prevent us from striking those who seek to destroy us," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared.

On Monday, the Israeli leader received wall-to-wall support at home as politicians across the spectrum condemned the ICC prosecutor's move, which has also helped him rally Israeli society, which has been divided over the war, at least for the time being. They included Israeli President Isaac Herzog, and Netanyahu's two main political rivals, War Cabinet member Benny Gantz and opposition leader Yair Lapid.

US President Joe Biden said in a statement on Monday that the effort to arrest Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over the war in Gaza was "outrageous", adding "whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security".

If that's not enough, Biden also sent his National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to Tel Aviv on Monday to meet with Lapid, Gantz, Gallant as well as Chief of Staff of Defense Herzi Halevi and War Cabinet member Gadi Eisenkot in an obvious move to help Netanyahu rally domestic support for his war, as some of them, including Gallant and Gantz, had threatened to resign if Netanyahu does not spell out a clear postwar vision for Gaza.

That Sullivan again expressed the US' "unwavering support" for Israel and "the US commitment to see Hamas defeated" is a clear sign that Netanyahu's war in Gaza has the full endorsement of the Biden administration. Although the top US security advisor went to great lengths in the meetings to press Israel to reopen channels for humanitarian support for the Palestinians besieged in the south of Gaza, his hosts could not mistake his core message.

No wonder, Gallant, who apparently changed his mind on the protracted war to some extent, said on the same day that the Israeli military would expand its operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah in its efforts to crush Hamas.

So it is the US that has the final say on when and how the war in Gaza can be ended. That has made the conflict a showboat on which US politicians can flaunt their hypocrisy and callousness.

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