US Reportedly Working to Stop ICC From Issuing Arrest Warrant for Netanyahu

Karim Ahmed Khan, Netanyahu, Biden
Karim Ahmed Khan, International Criminal Court chief prosecutor

The Moral Bankruptcy of the “Rules-Based Order”: The U.S. Intervention to Protect Israeli Leaders from ICC Prosecution

Israel Scrambles as Netanyahu, Gallant and IDF Chief Face ICC Arrest Warrants for War Crimes in Gaza.

Warrants could be issued this week against Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and army chief Herzl Halevi. Some legal experts say the attorney general and army lawyers are also partly to blame for not doing enough to prevent Israeli violations of international law

However, reports are emerging of a frantic American diplomatic intervention to shield Israeli officials from potential war crimes charges over the Gaza massacre, the stunning hypocrisy and abject moral bankruptcy at the core of the West’s purported “rules-based international order” is once again laid bare.

According to Israeli media, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “under unusual stress” over the prospect of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for his role in overseeing the wanton killing and “deliberate starvation” of Palestinians in Gaza.

Hungry Palestinian children
Hungry Palestinian children clamour and beg for food in Rafah, Gaza on December 31, 2023. (Photo: Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Over 34,000 Palestinians, including 14,500 children, have been massacred in Israel’s bombardment since October, invoking credible accusations of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the use of starvation as a weapon of war against the trapped Gazan populace. Yet in the face of such undeniable evidence of war crimes, the U.S. government is intervening not to uphold the rule of law, but to thwart it for their ally’s benefit.

The hypocrisy comes when you realise the U.S. does not recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Yet in a cynical ploy, the U.S. – despite vocally championing ICC action against Russian officials over Ukraine – is now desperately lobbying to block the very same legal consequences for its ally Israel.

While Israel is not a member of the court, based in The Hague, and does not recognise its jurisdiction, the Palestinian territories are and were admitted as a member state in 2015.

The raw immorality of shielding Netanyahu from consequences while condemning Putin underscores the utter lack of consistent principles or human rights ethos within this “rules-based order.” It is a naked exercise of realpolitik in which U.S. hegemonic interests and patronage of the Israeli apartheid state take precedence over any feigned commitment to universal justice or human dignity.

The ghastly double standard exposes the “rules-based order” as a propaganda fiction deployed only against geopolitical rivals of the West, never its partners in unchecked militarism and human rights abuses. When Ukrainian civilian deaths sparked thunderous Western condemnation and ICC warrants, the far more horrific death toll in Gaza has been met with wilfully averted eyes and diplomatic cover for the perpetrators.

As legal experts rightly warn, by actively obstructing ICC prosecutions of Israeli leaders, President Biden himself could potentially be held culpable for complicity in war crimes under international statutes he purports to uphold. The breathtaking disconnect – proudly broadcasting commitment to a rules-based global order while violating its very precepts for expediency – indicts the entire American-led system as both unprincipled and illegitimate.

Of course, the US have a history with the ICC.

In 2018 the then White House National Security Advisor John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body “unaccountable” and “outright dangerous” to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of US service members would be “an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation.”

“If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said.

He said the US was prepared to slap financial sanctions and criminal charges on officials of the court if they proceed against any Americans.

“We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the US financial system, and we will prosecute them in the US criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans,” he said.

ICC prosecutors asked for the court to open an investigation into alleged war crimes carried out by Afghan security forces, Taliban and Haqqani militants as well as US troops and intelligence forces who were in Afghanistan since 2003. The US personnel are accused of illegal imprisonment and torture. 

Bolton made the comments in a speech in Washington to the Federalist Society, a powerful association of legal conservatives.

We also remember when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waxed poetic about a “rules-based international order” upheld by lofty UN charters and human rights declarations. He declared it a noble vision indeed – “reflections of the world’s shared aspirations” to prevent conflict and uphold the rights of all people through laws and institutions.

Yet for the rest of us confronted with reality, the rhetoric rings bitterly hollow. This vaunted rules-based order seems to exist only when the West can point its accusatory finger at its enemies or those conveniently labelled “rogue states”.

Just like this amoral Westminster Parliament where both Sunak and Starmer have become cheerleaders for Israeli human rights violations. Both party leaders all too willing to avert their eyes from genocide or human rights violations when lucrative arms contracts or surreptitious trade deals are at stake.

But what this scandal really does is lay bare the reality that international laws and judicial bodies are mere performance pieces, utilised as brandished weapons against the West’s adversaries while its partners in industrial-scale killing are shielded with impunity. It is the height of imperial arrogance to invoke lofty human rights rhetoric when politically convenient, only to sabotage the very same principles when profits or geopolitical goals are at stake.

Someone Needs to Stop This Atrocity: If Not The Law, What?

For the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families shattered by Israel’s indiscriminate violence, this craven diplomatic manoeuvre represents not just a failure of global governance, but its permanent repudiation as a force for justice or human uplift. They see only the blunt instrumentalism of U.S. hard power and heartless self-interest in service to an extremist ethnostate enabled to operate beyond moral constraints or legal accountability.

Yet the tragedy extends beyond Palestinian suffering alone. For the grieving Israeli families who lost loved ones in Hamas’ October 7th assault, as well as the potentially captive hostages still unaccounted for amid Gaza’s rubble, Netanyahu’s defiant impunity represents a perverse denial of justice and closure. His actions have ensured an endless cycle of violence and retribution, leaving both sides adrift in shared trauma with no path towards reconciliation or healing.

As the death toll mounts and more mass graves inevitably are uncovered in Gaza’s killing fields, the world bears witness to both the unrestrained belligerence of the Israeli military machine and the willful complicity of those who hold the reins of global order. The United States’ intervention to protect its client’s war criminals from prosecution is the ultimate indictment of the rank bad-faith political theatre underpinning this entire rules-based charade.

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