Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked US President Donald Trump and America for standing up against the International Criminal Court and its bias against Israel and the United States.
Netanyahu made his remarks in English at a briefing Thursday night in Jerusalem from the Prime Minister’s Office prior to a news conference held in Hebrew.
“I would like to thank the president for his leadership in sanctioning the corrupt and biased international court obsessed with a witch hunt against Israel and the United States,” Netanyahu said.
“The ICC fabricates outlandish charges against Israel, outrageously claiming that Jews living in their historic homeland constitutes a ‘war crime.’
“Ridiculous. Shame on them.
“And once again America, thank you for standing up for justice, and for standing up for truth.”
The Trump administration authorized sanctions against ICC officials who are investigating alleged war crimes against the United States and its allies, including Israel.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the ICC a “kangaroo court” and said the administration also authorized visa restrictions against ICC officials and their family members.
“It gives us no joy to punish them,” he said, “but we cannot allow ICC officials and their families to come to the United States to shop and travel and otherwise enjoy American freedoms as these same officials seek to prosecute the defender of those very freedoms.”
Pompeo was joined at the State Department announcement by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Attorney General William Barr and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
The ICC, which US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday called “a kangaroo court,” is investigating whether war crimes have been committed by the United States in Afghanistan and by Israel during the 2014 war with Gaza “Operation Protective Edge” in addition to alleged crimes in the disputed territories of Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Jordan Valley.
“Despite repeated calls by the United States and our allies to reform, the International Criminal Court has taken no action to reform itself and continues to pursue politically-motivated investigations against us and our allies, including Israel,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
Neither the United States nor Israel is a member of the court in The Hague.
“Given Israel’s robust, civilian and military legal system and strong track record of investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing by military personnel, it’s clear the ICC is only putting Israel in its crosshairs for nakedly political purposes,” said Pompeo. “It’s a mockery of justice.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenzai also thanked the president Thursday night for his actions in dealing with the ICC.
Writing in a post on Twitter, Ashkenazi tweeted: “I thank President Trump and the US administration for the decision to take steps against the ICC for its politically motivated and illegitimate attempts to assert jurisdiction against Israel and the US.”
Former Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked applauded the US move as well: “The International Criminal Court is being misused by the Palestinians and others to pursue political campaigns against democracies, while distorting international law,” she tweeted. “We congratulate President @realDonaldTrump on his important decision to sanction the @IntlCrimCourt.”
JNS contributed to this report.