ICC Sanctions Bill Passes 247 to 155

(FeaturedHeadlines.com) The US House of Representatives passed legislation on June 4 to authorize sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC), following a request by one of its prosecutors for arrest warrants against Israeli and Hamas leaders. The bill, titled the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act, passed the chamber with bipartisan support.

The legislation directs the Biden administration to impose sanctions on the ICC or any other foreign actor engaged in an effort to investigate, arrest, or prosecute protected persons of the United States or its allies. The bill defines a protected person as any US person or foreign person that is a citizen or lawful resident of a US ally that has not consented to ICC jurisdiction.

Neither the US nor Israel are signatories of the Rome Statute, which established the ICC and its jurisdiction. In addition to protecting Israeli leaders, the legislation helps to protect US sovereignty, US Congressman Chip Roy said. Roy introduced the bill in May.

On May 20, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan filed arrest warrants for Hamas leaders and Israeli leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Khan accused the officials of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the wake of Hamas’ October 7 surprise attack on Israel, which sparked an Israeli military response in the Gaza Strip.

US House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said that pursuing members of a terrorist organization does not constitute a war crime. The US must ensure consequences against the ICC if it targets a “democracy defending itself against evil,” Scalise said.

The legislation must clear the Democrat-majority US Senate as well before going to President Joe Biden’s desk for finalization. However, the White House has expressed opposition to the bill, prompting most—but not all—Democratic lawmakers to oppose the legislation.

Senate Republicans are pushing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to take up the bill. Schumer may seek to avoid consideration of the bill in an effort to steer clear of legislation that could display divisions among Democrats ahead of the 2024 elections in November.

Although most US lawmakers are vocally supportive of Israel, domestic politics could ultimately sink the bill intended to protect Israeli leaders from international prosecution.

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