Skip to content
View Featured Image

United States Passes Controversial Bill To Sanction ICC

Above photo: The interior of the US House of Representatives. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

In a highly controversial move, the US House of Representatives has voted to pass a bill to impose sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its staff. The bill comes as a response to the ICC’s efforts to prosecute Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Gaza.

The legislation, which passed yesterday with a vote of 247-155, has been seen by many as a clear demonstration of the unwavering support that Israel enjoys among the majority of US lawmakers across both the Republican and Democratic parties. Critics also argue that this vote is yet another example of the significant influence that the pro-Israel lobby wields over American politics, often at the expense of US interests.

If enacted, the bill will impose far-reaching economic sanctions and visa restrictions on individuals and judges associated with the ICC, as well as their family members. This sweeping approach has been met with concern from some Democrats, who argue that the bill is overly broad and could have unintended consequences, such as impacting Americans and US companies that work with the court.

US President Joe Biden has expressed “deep concerns” about the ICC’s bid for arrest warrants against Israeli officials. However, he has also strongly opposed the proposed sanctions, stating that they were “going too far” and could potentially harm America’s relationship with the court.

Both Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have acknowledged that the bill is unlikely to become law in its current form. They have indicated a willingness to engage in further negotiations with the White House to find a more balanced approach. Despite their differences, though, both parties have emphasised the need to present a united front against court at The Hague, a stance that puts that US at odds with the international rules-based system which it claims to, but clearly doesn’t, uphold.

The passage of this controversial bill comes at a time when both the ICC and the International Court of Justice are conducting investigations into allegations of genocide committed by Israel during the occupation state’s military offensive in Gaza. More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel, the vast majority of whom were women and children.

Last month, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan formally accused Netanyahu and Gallant, as well as three senior Hamas officials — Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh — of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In response, Israeli leaders condemned the move as disgraceful and anti-Semitic. The true extent of Israel’s hostility to the ICC was exposed in the days after Khan applied for arrest warrants. A joint investigation by the Guardian, +972 Magazine, and Local Call revealed that Israel had conducted a near decade-long “war” against the ICC to undermine its inquiry into war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The investigation revealed that Israel deployed its intelligence agencies, including Mossad, to monitor and pressure senior ICC staff in an effort to thwart the court’s work. Shockingly, the investigation alleged that the head of Mossad went so far as to threaten the court’s former chief prosecutor in an attempt to derail the inquiry.

Sign Up To Our Daily Digest

Independent media outlets are being suppressed and dropped by corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our daily email digest before it’s too late so you don’t miss the latest movement news.