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Experts slam ICC for quick case against Israel while ignoring brutal regimes: ‘Totally politically driven’


Experts slam ICC for quick case against Israel while ignoring brutal regimes: 'Totally politically driven'


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The International Criminal Court (ICC) drew anger over its consideration to issue arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas officials, prompting critics to highlight cases of rogue nations where leaders appear to escape the court’s scrutiny.

“While the ICC has been around for over two decades, it has less than 10 successful prosecutions,” Orde Kittrie, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and law professor at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, told Fox News Digital.  

“It’s spent over $2 billion. It’s been really ineffective, and that makes it particularly ironic that it’s going after the officials of Israel. Israel isn’t an ICC member state, and the ICC is prohibited by its charter for going after a state which effectively polices its own alleged violations,” Kittrie said. “Israel polices its own alleged violations, so the ICC really has no business going after Israeli officials.” 

“It’s obviously, totally politically driven,” he added. “The failings are clearly driven by politics and the same anti-Israel animus that has long dominated the U.N. and other international organizations whose filings should be treated as what they are: It’s quintessential lawfare, a political vendetta masquerading as a legal proceeding.”

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Hamas terrorists in Gaza

Palestinian Hamas terrorists are seen during a military show in Gaza City on July 20, 2017. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

“There’s no way that they should have filed against Israel,” Kittrie argued. “The ICC prosecutor decided to do it for political reasons … there’s more pressure on him to file against Israel than there is against far more worthy candidates, so that’s what he does. It’s basically law by windsock.”

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan announced this week that he would file an application requesting arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant as well as Hamas’ terrorist leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh and military commander Mohammed Deif. 

Netanyahu and Gallant at press conference

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant attend a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/AFP/Getty Images)

Khan said the decision proceeded from a review of evidence by a panel of experts, including human rights attorney Amal Clooney, wife of actor George Clooney. Khan said his office found “reasonable grounds” to believe Israeli officials “bear criminal responsibility for … war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the State of Palestine.”

Khan cited alleged crimes of “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare” and “directing attacks against a civilian population.”

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Critics have blasted Khan for what they view as equating the Israeli officials with Hamas by requesting warrants for both groups of leaders. Khan’s office “unanimously concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Hamas leaders … have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including hostage-taking, murder and crimes of sexual violence,” according to Clooney’s statement.

As such, many have pointed to some glaring examples of missing cases that they believe the ICC should pursue, such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and any official from the Iranian regime.

Karim Khan speaking at a microphone

Karim Khan is the ICC’s chief prosecutor. (Getty Images/File)

Gabriel Noronha, former State Department adviser on Iran and current Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA fellow), on social media platform X also highlighted Chinese President Xi Jinping for his country’s alleged treatment of the Uyghur population and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who the U.N. accused of committing “crimes against humanity.”

The court, meanwhile, has ongoing investigations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Libya, Mali, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Russia’s crimes in Ukraine, with cases recently closed and under consideration in Uganda, Central African Republic, Kenya and Georgia. An investigation has remained open in Venezuela since 2021 following a three-year preliminary exam.

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The ICC has previously drawn a clear line on who it can and cannot pursue in cases, depending on membership as determined by signatories of the Rome Statute. The court considered two different cases brought against North Korea – one in 2014 and one in 2016 – and determined that in the first case the court had jurisdiction because South Korea was a signatory, but in the latter case, North Korea alone lay outside jurisdiction as non-signatory, the Korea Herald reported.

The court has, however, acted outside this measure before, most notably when Russia invaded Ukraine and the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin related to alleged involvement in the abduction of Ukrainian children.

Regime war crimes

Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, left, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. (Getty Images | Reuters)

Both Ukraine and Russia signed the Rome Statute, but neither ratified it, and Russia withdrew its signature outright in 2016. Ukraine accepted the court’s jurisdiction, though, which allowed the ICC to investigate alleged Russian crimes following the 2022 invasion.

Israel is not a signatory, but the Palestinian Territories, titled the State of Palestine by the ICC, is a signatory and ratified the Rome Statute, which would provide the ICC with its jurisdiction to investigate alleged crimes in the Gaza Strip. The announcement regarding the application for arrest warrants this week also referred to “the Territory of Israel,” even though the United Nations (not affiliated with the ICC) does not recognize a Palestinian state and recognizes the state of Israel. The United Nations affords the Palestinian Territories nonmember observer status, but the territories signed onto the Rome Statute in 2015.

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Putin-Victory

Russian President Vladimir Putin (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko/File)

Fox News Digital reached out to the ICC prosecutor’s office but did not receive a response by time of publication.

China, Syria and Iran are not signatories to the Rome Statute, but Venezuela is. The court sidestepped the 2016 North Korea case because the issue appeared internal, and the China, Syria and Iran cases have largely consisted of internal issues that would provide the ICC with little territorial justification.

Kittrie said the issuing of arrest warrants from the ICC ultimately doesn’t hold much weight, pointing to the fact that the warrant did not dissuade Putin from continuing his war into a third year and that he remains at-large.

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“It hasn’t made a difference, it won’t make a difference,” Kittrie said, noting that it did give the prosecutor “some sense that he was getting legitimacy from the United States,” which also is not a signatory of the Rome Statute.

“I think one of the first things the U.S. is going to do is cut off its assistance to the ICC. No, it doesn’t provide funding to the ICC … but it does provide various types of intelligence and other practical assistance, which are crucial to the ICC ability to have great success.”

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