Home News House votes to impose sanctions on ICC officials over Israel prosecution

House votes to impose sanctions on ICC officials over Israel prosecution


The House of Representatives voted along largely party lines on Tuesday to impose sweeping sanctions on International Criminal Court officials in condemnation of the court’s top prosecutor’s attempt to Accusations against senior Israeli leaders Committed war crimes by attacking Hamas.

The bill would force President Biden to restrict entry into the United States, revoke visas and impose financial restrictions on anyone in court who attempts to investigate, arrest, detain or prosecute a “protected person” or U.S. allies. It would also target anyone who provides “financial, material or technical support” to those efforts.

Biden’s advisers said he “strongly opposes” the measure because it would impose sanctions on such a wide range of officials, including court staff and any witnesses involved in potential cases. But it reflects widespread bipartisan anger in Washington after the Supreme Court’s top prosecutor announced late last month that he would Seeking charges against Israeli and Hamas leaders.

The Republican-drafted bill passed by a vote of 247 to 155, with two Republicans voting in favor and 42 Democrats crossing party lines to vote in favor.

The bill’s author, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said it was necessary to prevent international courts from acting beyond their jurisdiction and to allay concerns that actions against Israeli officials could be a prelude to actions against American officials.

“What happens here will have consequences for us and our country. So it’s important to speak with one voice, with authority and with strength,” Mr Roy said on Tuesday.

Since ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan publicly requested charges from the court’s judges, the move has been widely condemned in Washington. Members of both parties have argued that the move exceeds the court’s jurisdiction and falsely draws parallels between the actions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close U.S. ally, and that of Hamas terrorist group leader Yahya Sinwar, accusing both of committing crimes against humanity.

“The ICC prosecutor is trying to draw a parallel between the self-defense decision of Israel’s elected leaders and the self-defense decision of Hamas’ terrorist leaders,” said Representative Gregory W. Meeks of New York, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. “There is — I repeat — no moral and legal equivalence here.”

Yet despite bipartisan frustration with court prosecutors, Meeks opposed the bill, as did most other Democrats who have been calling for a bipartisan measure that would reflect a broad rejection of the court’s moves without resorting to sanctions.

“If our goal is to change the ICC’s behavior, sanctions are not the right tool,” Meeks said. “Sanctions simply don’t work here. Sanctions will not make the ICC back down, and in fact, they may force the ICC to pursue this case more aggressively.”

In the weeks since Mr. Khan announced his decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, Republicans and Democrats have struggled to come up with a unified response. But the White House rejected a compromise proposed by House Speaker Mike Johnson and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., because the administration did not want to impose sanctions on the ICC.

“We worked really hard to get a bipartisan deal, a bipartisan bill that the speaker and Mr. Jeffries both approved of,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who led the negotiations, said Tuesday. “But when it went to the White House, it was rejected.”

Republicans quickly tried to divide Democrats over the Gaza war and exploit divisions on the left over Netanyahu’s tactics, but they decided to move forward with their preferred measures.

“We need to act quickly because this case has moved much faster than expected,” Mr. McCaul said before the vote.

John F. Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, told reporters last week that the White House did not believe that imposing sanctions on the court and its supporters was the right approach.

“We obviously don’t believe the ICC has jurisdiction,” he said. “But we certainly don’t support these arrest warrants, and we’ve said that before. However, we don’t think that sanctions against the ICC are the answer.”

Before the bill was passed, White House officials released a The statement said the government “strongly opposes” the measure But no threat was made to veto the bill. The statement said officials were “deeply concerned” about the arrest warrants but “there are more effective ways to defend Israel, preserve the United States’ position at the ICC, and promote international justice and accountability.”

Roy knows his proposal is unlikely to become law in its current form, but he said he hopes to come up with a bipartisan proposal.

“If the Senate wants to amend it, send it back to the House and try to address any issues that my colleagues on this side or on that side have raised — that’s great,” Roy said Tuesday, adding, “They can send it back to us and we can send it to the president.”

House Democrats were annoyed that Roy insisted on rushing through a bill he knew Democrats would not support on which there was already a consensus.

“Once again, we have a poorly drafted, ill-considered message-passing bill that has not gone through committee, has not gone through the regular process, and has not been well thought out,” said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif. “We cannot vote for a bill this imperfect today and expect the Senate to fix it.”

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