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MIDDLE EAST CRISIS UPDATE: 30 APRIL 2024

Potential ICC arrest warrants could jeopardise ceasefire – US; Israel ‘ready to accept’ hostage truce deal

Potential ICC arrest warrants could jeopardise ceasefire – US; Israel ‘ready to accept’ hostage truce deal
The International Criminal Court building in The Hague, Netherlands. (Photo: Michel Porro / Getty Images)

The US and its allies fear that the International Criminal Court may issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials just as the country is getting closer to a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, potentially jeopardising a deal, people familiar with the matter said.

The New York Times reported on Monday that Israel was ready to accept the release of 33 hostages, down from at least 40, during the first phase of a new truce.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged leaders of Hamas to quickly reach a decision on Israeli conditions for a temporary ceasefire, a move that could help bring an end to fighting in Gaza.

US warns ICC action on Israel would hurt ceasefire chances

The US and its allies are concerned that the International Criminal Court (ICC) may issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials just as the country is getting closer to a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, potentially jeopardising a deal, people familiar with the matter said.

The worry is that Israel would back out of a truce if the ICC proceeds with the warrants, according to two of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. Group of Seven nations have begun a quiet diplomatic effort to convey that message to the Hague-based court, the people said.

The ICC was weighing up arrest warrants targeting senior Israeli officials as well as the leadership of Hamas over the two sides’ conduct of the war in Gaza, the people said. The New York Times previously reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be among those targeted.  

The US opposes the investigation and argues that the ICC doesn’t have jurisdiction in this situation, according to US officials. Two of the people said that the gap between Israel and Hamas over an agreement to release hostages had narrowed in recent weeks and that a deal was now close. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by the US and European Union.

The New York Times reported on Monday that Israel was ready to accept the release of 33 hostages, down from at least 40, during the first phase of a new truce. Hamas has said it can’t free 40 women, elderly or sick captives as demanded in return for a six-week ceasefire because it doesn’t have enough hostages in that category.

Group of Seven allies have been pushing Israel to put off an incursion into Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have taken refuge. An agreement could help bring an end to fighting in Gaza and put off the assault on the city, one of the people said.

On 7 October, Hamas attacked Israel in surprise raids, killing more than 1,200 people and taking around 250 as hostages. More than 34,000 Palestinians were killed in the ensuing Israeli campaign, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. The US and other Group of Seven nations have repeatedly urged Netanyahu to do more to protect civilians in Gaza, while remaining staunch allies and suppliers of arms. 

The US has never been a party to the ICC, which began its work in 2002 as a “court of last resort” for victims of genocide, war crimes and other atrocities. President Joe Biden revoked sanctions imposed on the ICC during the Trump administration and has cooperated in some cases, especially around allegations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

The court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, said in February that he was deeply concerned about the conduct of Israeli forces, as well as of Hamas fighters holding Israeli hostages. “Those who do not comply with the law should not complain later when my office takes action pursuant to its mandate,” he said at the time.

The ICC works separately from the International Court of Justice, the UN’s main judicial body, which can’t try or punish individuals. That court ruled in January that Israel must act to prevent Palestinians from being killed or injured in response to a genocide case brought by South Africa. 

Hamas needs to make decision on Israel truce offer, says US 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged leaders of Hamas to quickly reach a decision on Israeli conditions for a temporary ceasefire, a move that could help bring an end to fighting in Gaza.

Israel had been “extraordinarily generous” with proposals made during talks mediated by Qatar and Egypt to secure the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, Blinken said at a special event of the World Economic Forum in Riyadh on Monday. He wasn’t more specific about the offer on the table.

The US diplomat travelled to the region — his seventh trip to the Middle East since the Israel-Hamas conflict began in early October — to push for at least a pause in hostilities under a temporary ceasefire agreement.  

The US supported Israeli efforts to defend itself and prevent future attacks, and was determined to bring an end to the current conflict, Blinken said.  

Hamas had been presented with a “proposal that is extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel. The only thing that’s standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas,” Blinken said. “They have to decide quickly.” 

A Hamas official said its delegation planned to respond to the latest Israeli truce plan on Monday, Agence France-Presse reported, offering another glimmer of hope as the Gaza conflict grinds toward the seven-month mark. 

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s room for manoeuvre is limited because he heads the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. His firebrand coalition allies, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, oppose a hostage deal right now, which could bring his administration down.

Blinken is also due to travel to Jordan and Israel in his push for the ceasefire deal, after months of deadlocked talks between the Jewish state and Hamas.

Tusk pushes for speedy Orlen probe amid report on Hezbollah link

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk summoned the head of the secret service and prosecutor general following a report that the previous management of the nation’s largest oil refiner had ignored warnings about a Swiss unit.

State-controlled Orlen’s internal security service cautioned against hiring a man identified as Samer A to run a trading business planned for Switzerland because he was thought to be involved in the oil trade with Iran and have connections to Hezbollah, Onet.pl reported on Monday. The website didn’t disclose Samer A’s full name in line with Polish law. 

After the company’s management changed this February, new bosses uncovered losses at Orlen Trading Switzerland of almost $400-million, stemming from unsecured advance payments to unknown intermediaries. The major beneficiary was a 25-year-old Chinese citizen at a Dubai-based company that received more than $200-million.

Tusk described the case as key for the country’s security in a post on X social media platform on Monday. “Poles need to know the truth. There’s no point in waiting any more.” 

The country’s top refiner has been at the centre of controversy under former Chief Executive Officer Daniel Obajtek, a loyalist of Poland’s previous populist administration. In January, prosecutors started several probes into Orlen’s acquisition of oil refiner Grupa Lotos, as well as its pricing policies, which caused shortages of fuel at filling stations last year.

Orlen said last week that it had notified prosecutors about potential irregularities at the Swiss unit. Its press office declined to comment on the latest media reports when contacted by Bloomberg on Monday. DM

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  • Ben Harper says:

    And here comes Redwood in 3…2…1…

  • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

    All the weapon suppliers to Israel will oppose the arrest warrant for the simple reason that it will filter down to them.
    It could also reveal that the ICC has only been able to prosecute African war crimes, Putin is the first European leader to face such a warrant which is still to be effective.
    This is the beginning of the end for international law as we knew it, domestically strong laws are needed and national defense needs to be strengthened as we move towards survival of the fittest.
    The way Europe is arming itself shows we are pivoting to the stone age.
    Anything towards Israel from international organisations will be rejected period, why should anyone respect them after that?

    • Ben Harper says:

      How many of the arrest warrants against African despots have successfully been executed? Our own government was complicit in protecting a genocidal maniac with an arrest warrant out for him from being arrested right here in our own front yard, oh and didn’t all of our little dictators-in-waiting swear to fight to protect Putin when he was scheduled to visit SA not so long ago?

      • Sihle Sigwebela says:

        How many arrest warrants have been issued, let alone pursued, in Europe or Norht America?

        • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

          Good question Sihle let’s expose the hypocrites

        • Kanu Sukha says:

          Other than Milosovic .. no others ! America … and its proxy Israel have deliberately refused to join the ICC (but happily join in the chorus of condemnation of ‘others’ it dislikes) .. but will not subject themselves to scrutiny by ‘independent’ parties ! Gives meaning to ‘having your cake and eating it !’ Its latest ‘project’ is to ‘collapse’ the UN … so that they can continue to be a ‘law unto themselves’ .

  • Troy Marshall says:

    I reckon I’m a logical chap, but I don’t get this. How would arrest warrants issued by the ICC affect a ceasefire deal?
    I’ve been keeping tab’s on Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank since the early 90’s; and my impression is that Israeli governments don’t give a damn about international law.
    Besides, who would serve the warrants? The NATO alliance’s reliance on the USA supersedes international legal commitments.
    I believe this is a cynical attempt to avoid bad ‘PR’.
    It will look odious supplying weapons to individuals wanted for war crimes. Be very hard to clamp down on student protests if this comes about.

    • dexter m says:

      You hit the nail on the head. Israel will not and has never accepted international laws . The only international law they respected is the one granting them the country. But the damage from these warrants will impact western supporters of Israel. They would lose the moral high ground when it comes to respect of international law and human rights that they profess to support and champion . The same critics that chastised SA for not arresting Bashir would have to either action those warrants or be shown that all their comments against SA was just politics and not respect of international law .

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Don’t worry ! You are not alone trying to figure out the capricious and wanton behaviour of the ‘western’ alliances. They set up the UN more than seven decades ago to protect ‘themselves’ … and now find ‘it’ no longer easily serves their self interests and efforts at ‘dominion’ over what they call the ‘international’ {sic} ‘order’ ! For over 70 years with the ‘ironclad’ backing of the the US in particular, and UK … they provided ‘cover’ for all manner of intransigencies and malign behaviour of the Israeli regime to do whatever it pleased. The chickens are at last coming home to roost ! Redwoods (more like deadwoods) like Harper still live in the fantasy world of Zionism and believe that they are ‘God’s chosen children’. As Israeli Gideon Levy explained … their edifice of presenting themselves as the ‘victims of their occupation’ … has fallen apart spectacularly. Deadwood could not even figure out that Putin did not come to SA because SA was aware of the ‘consequences’ that would create. Israel as you correctly state … ‘could not give a damn’ about consequences! Fortunately … there is a growing ‘minority’ in that state (and many Jewish students elsewhere) who realise the ‘game is up’ … like our apartheid supporters did here some 30 or so years ago.

      • Troy Marshall says:

        There are principled people living in the USA. The speech made by Jonathan Glazer (who is Jewish) and the support he received is proof of that.
        The continuous need to sustain the military industrial complex is a baleful influence on America’s foreign policy. Good people don’t make a living researching, developing and refining the instruments of death.
        The pro-Israeli lobby is not a moderating influence. Unfortunately they have enjoyed decades of success conflating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
        You bring up “apartheid” South Africa. The USA still hasn’t changed. South African freedom fighters were designated as terrorists and the South African racist government was shielded by USA veto’s at the UN.
        New Zealand has introduced sanctions targeting settlers on the West Bank. There is a groundswell of support in the European Union for the Palestinian cause. The problem is NATO and the politicians who dance to military and security concerns.
        Israel needs to be isolated – sanctions – the same as racist South Africa. 57 years of an illegal occupation is unconscionable.
        I suggest you google “Bernie Sanders Netanyahu Israel”. You want to read what Mister Sanders (who lost family in the holocaust) has to say about Netanyahu.

        • JP K says:

          Not your main point, but when you say “Good people don’t make a living researching, developing and refining the instruments of death”. While objectively true, the lies we tell ourselves make it a bit more complex. Nazis exterminating Jews didn’t see themselves as bad people. Physicists working on nuclear weapons don’t see themselves as creating weapons of mass destruction – they’re just tackling some subset of a problem (cf. Jeff Schmidt’s Disciplined Minds).

          On your point that Israel needs to be sanctioned, I agree. This is where the conversation needs to be shifted to – Action. I think the student protests in the US are going to be a catalyst. The repression at Ivy league schools of peaceful protests have drawn attention to US institutional support of weapons manufacturers and support of Israel which will be hard to hide and to justify.

  • John Shaw says:

    Israel, a terrorist state!
    The flaw in the legitimacy of Israel is that it was created by the west without regard for the people of Palestine. Palestine was a British administered territory from 1917. Sometime thereafter a British politician by the name of Lord Balfour produced a document encouraging the creation of a Jewish State it became known as the Balfour Doctrine. In 1947 after the holocaust, The League of Nations/United Nations encouraged by the USA and Britain created Israel by dividing up Palestine into a section for the Jews and a section for the Palestinians. Both Jews and Palestinians lived in Palestine, the Palestinians were in the majority. The Palestinians and the Arab world rejected the division outright. The future of Palestine could only be decided by the Palestinian people.
    Many wars have been fought and millions of people have been displaced, killed, starved to death, or denied medical attention at the hands of the Jews occupying Palestine. On day one in 1948 the Jews displaced 750 000 from their homes in the new Israel. The Jews occupying Palestine have brutally abused the Palestinians for 75 years. These are crimes against humanity. They have done this by dehumanising the Palestinians, these constructs made it easy to slaughter 25000 women and children, almost a journalist a day and describe it as being ‘caught in the crossfire’. This is in the short period from October 7 23. The Jews have in the process dehumanised themselves. They have lost their humanity, their souls; they no longer have moral integrity and are no longer behaving like human beings. Evidence supports the claims that the Jews are starving the Palestinians by frustrating aid into Gaza. They are also denying them medical attention by destroying hospitals and other medical facilities. Killing Aid workers is strategic, demolishing medical facilities is strategic and especially killing journalists is strategic. No aid workers, no aid, no health facilities, no medical attention, no Palestinians! The IDF members slaughter anybody and everybody they come into contact with, including unarmed young children, old people, women, health workers, aid workers and their response is a social media celebration. These are commonly known as war crimes.
    The Israelis have destroyed cultural sites, archives, education sites, medical facilities and homes, the evidence supports genocide. In addition, they are building settlements in Palestinian territory notwithstanding many UN resolutions declaring them illegal. The Jews now occupy the whole of Palestine.
    Recently an old Jewish person wrote ‘we were the victims now we are the perpetrators’, what he did not speak about was the past 75 years where the USA, the UK, their European allies together with the Israeli propaganda machine, the Jews around the world and the Western media have provided cover for all the atrocities committed by Israel. The propaganda machine attacks everybody that is not pro-Israel. The attacks are relentless, truth is not important. The evidence hardly ever supports Israel’s version of events. The Israeli Knesset recently passed a law enabling the banning of media regarded a security risk to Israel, Al Jazeera is the first to be banned. Al Jazeera is the most credible media channel covering the Middle East. Truth is always discredited by Israel. The UN is often in the firing line, they know too much about what happens in the occupied territories. The Israeli propaganda machine demonises any persons or entities that share truth. Israel sounds a lot like North Korea, unhinged and isolated.
    We all wonder why the USA and their allies unconditionally support Israel, why Israel is never held accountable. Israel has been described as ‘lawless’ by legal scholars, as in criminal. The US is providing the bombs and ammunition that are used to slaughter the Palestinians. Israel is their frontman in the Middle East, there is more US military hardware in Israel including nuclear than anywhere in the world. The USA has provided hundreds of billions of dollars in support of Israel over the years. There are a lot of Jews in the USA, and all have a vote. This is about politics not morality. When the US President speaks about his concern for the Palestinians, he is not concerned about them he is concerned about votes. Nothing changes on the ground, it is called politics speak. How did the promoters of Israel expect the creation of a Jewish state to be a success without the support of the Palestinians and the Arab world?
    Israel will have no legitimacy for many people of the world until there is an agreement with the people of Palestine. Remarkably, the Israelis never speak about a solution only more violence and atrocities. There are no Nelson Mandelas in Israel so don’t expect a solution soon. The Palestinians in whatever form, Hamas or Hezbollah or the ordinary people of Palestine have few options to deal with the injustice they have been dealt. The accusation that UNRWA, the UN aid organisation, is supporting terrorism is another cynical example of the Israeli’s taking every opportunity to exterminate the Palestinians. Typically, no evidence provided. Of course, the Palestinians support Hamas and Hezbollah who else is batting for them. The Palestinians have been violated, impoverished, and humiliated for the past 75 years. Hezbollah and Hamas are the consequence.
    Israeli aggression is now on the world stage, it is out of the exclusive hands of the Israeli propaganda machine and the USA, the Teutonic plates around this issue are shifting, the best outcome is that Israel is dismantled. Israel is a threat to world peace and has bought death and misery to millions of people The cover provided and encouragement of these crimes against humanity by the USA, its allies, the western media, the Israeli propaganda machine, and the Jews around the world will go down in history as a crime of its own.
    Only disciples of humanity get to heaven.

    John Shaw
    South Africa

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      Amen John Shaw such factual and honest comment, we have even repeatedly blamed Hamas to try and move away from the smokescreen of october 7 and get people to understand atrocities committed by Israel that really gave birth to Hamas, this same birth financially supported by Israel to distabilize the PA.
      Hamas is only labeled a terrorist organization to suit Israel, UK and USA narratives

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