Biden’s Response to the ICC Undermined His Own Foreign Policy

Biden’s Response to the ICC Undermined His Own Foreign Policy
U.S. President Joe Biden pauses as he speaks in Blue Bell, Pa., Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 (AP Photo/Matt Rourke).

The war in Gaza was never going to change the world order, but it has fully undermined notions of a “rules-based order.” On Monday, the International Criminal Court took the bold step of announcing it was seeking arrest warrants from the court’s judges for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for authorizing starvation and intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population of Gaza. At the same time, it announced it was also seeking warrants for Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri and Ismail Haniyeh for actions ranging from hostage-taking to torture. 

In announcing the charges, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan remarked that, while Israel had “every right and indeed an obligation to get hostages back,” it was required to “do so by complying with the law.” In his estimation, it had failed to do so.

At first glance, this might seem like a victory for the rules-based order. And indeed, some observers lauded the charges, viewing them as a victory for international humanitarian law and a “historic step for victims.” A host of European governments subsequently expressed support for the ICC, and South Africa, which has accused Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice, also welcomed the charges. 

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