Photo Credit: ICJ
The International Court of Justice courtroom.

US lawmakers are working to pass a bill sanctioning officials in the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague following Prosecutor Karim Khan’s announcement Monday that he requested the Court issue arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

On Friday, meanwhile, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah, where it is believed many of the hostages abducted by Hamas terrorists on October 7 are still being held.

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In its decision, the Court ordered Israel to “Immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Maintain open the Rafah crossing for unhindered provision at scale of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance; Take effective measures to ensure the unimpeded access to the Gaza Strip of any commission of inquiry, fact-finding mission or other investigative body mandated by competent organs of the United Nations to investigate allegations of genocide.” In addition, the Court ordered Israel to “submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to this Order, within one month as from the date of this Order.”

Netanyahu and Gallant were accused by the ICC prosecutor of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, together with Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif.

President Joe Biden on Thursday called Khan’s decision to seek arrest warrants against Israel’s top leaders “outrageous,” adding, “We made our position clear on the ICC. We don’t recognize their jurisdiction, the way it’s been exercised, and it’s that simple. We don’t think there’s an equivalence between what Israel did and what Hamas did.”

Nevertheless, Biden’s response to Friday’s ruling by the ICJ was less than supportive, with a White House National Security spokesperson telling reporters, “We’ve been clear and consistent on our position on Rafah,” leaving open the question of just how much support Israel can really expect from the Biden Administration as the IDF continues its military operation to find and eliminate the Hamas leadership and rescue the remaining 125 hostages held captive in Gaza by the terror group.

Congress on Recess Till June 3
Lawmakers in the House left for a holiday recess on Thursday before reaching any bipartisan agreement on the bill, but pledged they would do so immediately upon their return on June 3.

“This is really for deterrence purposes,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) said before leaving on recess. “We want something that can become law … Otherwise, you have no deterrence against the ICC.”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) was more blunt. “This is a rogue agency,” he said Wednesday. “I know this majority has taken many steps against it. We’re going to continue to take actions.”

McCaul said he has also contacted Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who called the ICC decision “wrongheaded” and said the State Department would work together with Congress to develop the sanctions.

“That decision … on so many levels is totally wrongheaded,” Blinken said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “We’ll be happy to work with Congress, with this committee, on an appropriate response.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.