ICC Prosecutor Requests Arrest Warrants for Israeli Leaders

On May 20, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan announced that he requested warrants for the arrests of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, which, if issued by the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber, would make the leaders subject to arrest if they travel to any of the over 120 ICC member states. By requesting such warrants, Khan has set a precedent that poses a risk to U.S. officials and servicemembers by exposing them to potential ICC prosecution whenever U.S. forces conduct operations on the territory of an ICC member state. This risk of the assertion of international criminal prosecution of U.S. armed forces and leaders may impact future decisions to employ U.S. armed forces for important missions.

In keeping with longstanding U.S. law and policy to protect the citizens of Major non-NATO Ally states—including Israel—the United States must unequivocally convey to ICC prosecutors that issuing arrest warrants for Israeli officials is inconsistent with the spirit of the Rome Statute and the interests of international peace and security. This should include considering U.S. sanctions in response to this prosecutorial effort. It must also unambiguously state that any country that complies with an ICC arrest warrant for Israeli officials may face adverse consequences imposed by the United States.