Republican US senators sent threatening letter to ICC prosecutor over possible Netanyahu arrest warrant News
OSeveno, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Republican US senators sent threatening letter to ICC prosecutor over possible Netanyahu arrest warrant

A group of 12 Republican US senators sent a letter to International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan on April 24 threatening repercussions if the court issued arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials, according to a report by news organization Zeteo, which published the letter Monday.

The senators alleged that the ICC seeks to punish “legitimate actions of self-defense,” citing Khan’s report of the “calculated cruelty” he witnessed following the October 7 attack and making clear that they find “no moral equivalence between Hamas’s terrorism and Israel’s justified response.” They claimed that the arrest warrants “would align the ICC with the largest state sponsor of terrorism.”

The signatories declared they would take any warrant issued as “not only a threat to Israel’s sovereignty but to the sovereignty of the United States.” They threaten, “Target Israel and we will target you” and that any further action will “end all American support for the ICC” and “bar [Khan] and [his] families from the United States.” The letter ended: “You have been warned.”

The letter was signed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as well as Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas; Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee; Katie Boyd Britt of Alabama; Ted Budd of North Carolina; Kevin Cramer of North Dakota; Ted Cruz of Texas; Bill Hagerty of Tennessee; Pete Ricketts of Nebraska; Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida; and Tim Scott of South Carolina.

A statement from the ICC Prosecutor’s Office issued Friday noted that there was “significant public interest” surrounding present cases and encouraged dialogue, but warned against individuals threatening to retaliate against any actions of the court, which is prohibited under Article 70 of the Rome Statute.

The US is not a party to the Rome Statute and does not recognize ICC jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories, which the court asserts it has. The letter also highlighted the American Service-Members’ Protection Act, which prohibits federal, state and local governments from assisting the ICC and authorizes the US President “to use all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release” of any “US person” or ally detained by the ICC.

In response to the letter’s release, Canadian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bob Rae asserted that, “The ICC must be able to do its work free of intimidation.” Senator Cotton’s office confirmed the letter’s authenticity to JURIST in a separate communication on Monday.

The ICC can prosecute individuals for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Currently, Israel is facing genocide accusations brought by South Africa in the separate International Court of Justice (ICJ), which has imposed provisional measures in Israel’s Gaza offensive.