Blinken says he wants to work with Congress to penalize International Criminal Court

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he wants to work with Congress on legislation to penalize the International Criminal Court after it applied for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

“Given the events of yesterday, I think we have to look at the appropriate steps to take to deal with again, what is a profoundly wrongheaded decision,” Blinken said at a State Department budget hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Blinken’s comments were an early indication of the Biden administration’s openness to taking action against the Netherlands-based court for its application for arrest warrants for the senior Israeli officials. The court’s chief prosecutor Karim Khan also issued warrants for senior Hamas officials, including its leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar.

Blinken was responding to questions by the ranking member of the committee, Republican Sen. James Risch, who asked if Blinken would work with him on legislation that “includes the question of the ICC sticking its nose in the business of countries that have an independent legitimate, democratic judicial system.”

“The devil’s in the details, so let’s see what you got, and we can take from there,” said Blinken in response, adding that he wants to work with the committee “on a bipartisan basis.”

In a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Tuesday afternoon, Blinken said he would “welcome” working with Sen. Lindsey Graham on “bipartisan” sanctions against the ICC.

The Biden administration came out forcefully against Khan on Monday for his decision to apply for the warrants against top Israel officials on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“It’s clear Israel wants to do all it can to ensure civilian protection,” said Biden at a White House reception marking Jewish American Heritage Month. “Let me be clear: What’s happening is not genocide.”

Lawmakers from both parties condemned the ICC’s actions on Monday, and House Speaker Mike Johnson said that House Republicans are looking into sanctioning the ICC.

“In the absence of leadership from the White House, Congress is reviewing all options, including sanctions, to punish the ICC and ensure its leadership faces consequences if they proceed. If the ICC is allowed to threaten Israeli leaders, ours could be next,” Johnson said in a statement Monday.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has faced questions about its condemnation of the ICC’s actions while saying it continues to support the court’s investigation into Russian war crimes during its invasion of Ukraine.

“Regarding the question of whether or not we’ll continue to provide support to the ICC with respect to crimes that are committed in Ukraine, yes, we continue that work,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at a news conference after a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on Monday.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said at a news conference on Monday that the ICC has done “important work over the years to hold people accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity” that the US still supports.

“We’ll have the time to look at it, to digest it and perhaps issue a more complete response,” Miller said about the ICC applications.

The Trump administration previously sanctioned ICC officials by executive order in 2020 over its investigation of possible war crimes by US military and intelligence officials in Afghanistan, sanctions that the Biden administration lifted the next year.

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