Downing Street says ICC arrest of Netanyahu will not end Gaza war

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Downing Street says ICC arrest of Netanyahu will not end Gaza war

Labour says independence of the International Criminal Court had to be respected.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Building of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in 2019. (Wikipedia/Author	OSeveno/ Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0))
Building of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in 2019. (Wikipedia/Author OSeveno/ Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0))

Downing Street has said the UK government does not think the International Criminal Court (ICC) has the jurisdiction to apply for arrest warrants for senior Hamas and Israeli officials for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

A spokesperson for Rishi Sunak said the decision to seek arrest warrants would do “nothing to help reach a pause in the fighting, get hostages out or get humanitarian aid in, and make progress towards that sustainable ceasefire that we want to see”.

The PM’s spokesperson added:”We do not believe that seeking warrants will help get hostages out, get aid in, or deliver a sustainable ceasefire. This remains the UK’s priority.

“As we have said from the outset, we do not think the ICC has jurisdiction in this case. The UK has not yet recognised Palestine as a state, and Israel is not a State Party to the Rome Statute.”

Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell

Speaking later in the House of Commons, deputy foreign minister Andrew Mitchell added:”Building momentum towards a lasting peace will require a number of elements including removing Hamas’ capacity to launch attacks against Israel.

“A deal with Hamas for a pause in the fighting would involve exchanging hundreds of Palestinian prisoners charged with serious acts of terrorism, in return for the hostages’ release.

“I do not underestimate how difficult this must be for the Israeli government but it is the best way forward we see right now.

“We continue to work closely with the United States and partners in the region to support such a deal, and we do not believe that the ICC prosecutor seeking warrants will help in this regard. As we have said from the outset, we do not think the ICC has jurisdiction in this case.”

Responding for Labour, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy took issue with the government’s stance saying Labour believed the independence of the ICC had to be respected. 

Lammy described it as “a cornerstone of the international legal system” and he challenged Andrew Mitchell to say whether or not the government supported the international rule of law.

David Lammy calls for government to act over IRGC

He said his party did.

It was announced on Monday that the ICC is seeking arrest warrants for the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence minister Yoav Gallantand Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas chief in the Gaza Strip, and Mohammed Deif, the commander of its military wing, considered to be the masterminds of the 7 October assault, as well as Ismail Haniyeh.

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