Labour expected to drop challenge to ICC Netanyahu arrest warrant

UK government expected to drop legal bid which would have delayed Netanyahu and Gallant arrest warrant


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant have had arrest warrants sought by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor (Photo by ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The new Labour government is expected to drop a bid put forward by the former government on whether to approve requests made by the ICC for warrants of arrest against Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defence minister, Yoav Gallant.

Labour officials briefed that the party continues to support the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over Gaza, according to the Guardian.

The previous Tory government had claimed that the court did not have power over Israeli nationals. The former UK government had argued that judges hearing the case must address “outstanding” questions about the ICC’s jurisdiction over Israeli citizens before deciding whether to issue the warrants.

The warrant request had been condemned by many in Israel. Gallant said the prosecutor, Karim Khan, had drawn a "despicable" parallel between Israel and Hamas and denied his country's right to self-defence.

The US said the move against Israel’s leaders by the ICC was “outrageous”, while the UK described it as “deeply unhelpful”. 

Last month, the Foreign Office said that under the Oslo Accords, Palestinian authorities had no jurisdiction over Israeli nationals and could not, therefore, transfer jurisdiction to the ICC.

Judges at the ICC ruled at the end of June that they would allow the UK to make legal arguments in the case.

This was expected to delay a decision over whether the arrest warrant could be issued against the Israeli prime minister for alleged war crimes in Gaza.

At the time, Labour's shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, sparked outrage by supporting the ICC case, saying: “Democracies who believe in the rule of law must submit themselves to it.”

The development comes as Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer spoke to the leader of the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Prime Minister about the need for a peace process.

On a phone call with Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, Sir Keir said he believed that Palestinians had an “undeniable right” to statehood and spoke about the “ongoing suffering and devastating loss of life” in Gaza.

He said that “financial support for the Palestinian Authority” was one of his “immediate priorities”.

The new PM also spoke to Netanyahu about the clear and urgent” need for a ceasefire and said that mounting fire on the northern border of Israel with Lebanon was “very concerning” and it was “crucial all parties acted with caution”.

Sir Keir told Netanyahu that “it was also important to ensure the long-term conditions for a two-state solution were in place, including ensuring the Palestinian Authority had the financial means to operate effectively,” a readout of the call said.

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