Israel's Netanyahu welcomes Trump authorising sanctions against ICC officials

AFP , Thursday 11 Jun 2020

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday welcomed moves by US President Donald Trump to sanction any International Criminal Court officials who investigate US troops, as the tribunal examines alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

"This court is politicised and obsessed with carrying out a headhunt against Israel and the United States as well as other democratic countries that respect human rights, but turns a blind eye to the world's worst human rights offenders, including the terrorist regime in Iran," Netanyahu said at a press conference.

He accused the ICC of fabricating accusations against Israel by claiming that Jews living in their historic homeland constitutes a war crime.

"This is ridiculous. Shame on them."

Trump, ramping up pressure for the Hague-based court to stop its investigation of alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, issued an executive order Thursday to block all US property and assets of anyone involved in investigating or prosecuting American forces.

Washington has never accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration would not let US forces be "threatened by a kangaroo court".

But the US and Israel, its top Middle East ally, have refused to sign up to the ICC since its creation in 2002.

A decision from the Hague-based court's chief prosecutor in December 2019 to open a full investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories sparked a furious reaction from Israel and condemnation from the US.

Netanyahu said the decision made it a "political tool" against the Jewish state.

The Palestinians had joined the court in 2015.

The Trump administration has been livid over the ICC's investigation into alleged atrocities in Afghanistan, the longest-running war of the United States.

ICC judges had initially refused to authorise the investigation after Washington threatened sanctions.

In The Hague, a spokesperson said the court was "aware" of the announcement from Washington and would react after examining it.

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