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European leaders divided on ICC arrest warrant bid for Netanyahu

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu photographed during a press conference.

POLITICO, May 2024

While Israeli politicians of all stripes have sharply rebuked the International Criminal Court’s request for arrest warrants for its top officials, European leaders’ reactions are split. ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan filed applications Monday for arrests of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, as well as the commander of Hamas’s military wing and Israel’s defense minister, citing allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Israel and the State of Palestine. “Crimes committed in Gaza must be prosecuted at the highest level, regardless of the perpetrators,” Belgium’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hadja Lahbib, wrote in a statement on X, emphasizing Belgium’s support for the work of the ICC. 

Slovenia’s foreign ministry issued a statement in a similar vein, stating that war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on Israeli and Palestinian territory “must be prosecuted independently and impartially regardless of the perpetrators.” “Accountability is crucial to prevent atrocities and to guarantee peace,” the ministry wrote. The French foreign ministry said it had been “warning for many months about the imperative of strict compliance with international humanitarian law and in particular about the unacceptable nature of civilian losses in the Gaza Strip and insufficient humanitarian access,” adding, “France supports the International Criminal Court, its independence, and the fight against impunity in all situations.”

Other EU leaders saw the decision less favorably. 

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