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WORLD | 23-05-2024 15:37

‘Wrong’: Argentina slams ICC decision to request Netanyahu’s arrest

“Argentina considers the comparison made by the prosecutor of lawful authorities of a democratic State with leaders of a terrorist organisation responsible for brutal crimes wrong and rejects it,” the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

Argentina’s government has rejected a decision by an International Criminal Court prosecutor to seek the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“Argentina considers the comparison made by the prosecutor of lawful authorities of a democratic state with leaders of a terrorist organisation responsible for brutal crimes wrong and rejects it,” the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

On Monday,  Karim Khan, a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court said he would seek arrest warrants for Israel's prime minister and defence minister, as well as Hamas leaders, over alleged war crimes during the Gaza conflict.

Khan accuses Netanyahu and his minister, Yoav Gallant, of “deliberate starvation of civilians,” “intentional homicide” and “extermination and/or murder” in Gaza.

He also asked for arrest warrants against three leaders from the Palestinian movement Hamas for such crimes as “extermination,” “rape and other acts of sexual violence” and “taking hostages as a war crime” in Israel and Gaza.

The application now goes to a pre-trial panel of three judges who will decide whether the evidence meets the standard required to issue formal warrants.

There is no set time for this panel to make a decision but it usually takes at least one month and could take longer given the sensitivity of this case.

The court has no police of its own to enforce its warrants, and relies entirely on ICC states playing ball.

Any of the 124 ICC member states are technically obliged to carry out the arrest warrants if those subject to them travel there.

This could make travel tricky for Netanyahu and Gallant, although Israel's main ally, the United States, is not a member of the ICC so would not be obliged to arrest them.

Argentina, which has reorientated its foreign policy under President Javier Milei towards Israel and the United States, slammed the decision to seek Netanyahu’s arrest.

“The decision questions the right to self-defence exercised by Israel,” said Argentina’s Foreign Ministry in a statement, and “adds obstacles to the efforts to release the hostages still in the hands of Hamas, the arrival of humanitarian aid and a long-term solution to the crisis.”

Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden described the ICC move as "outrageous," also criticising its decision to put together Israel and Hamas. 

The conflict in Gaza war broke out after Hamas's unprecedented attack on October 7. It  resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures. Militants also took 252 hostages, 124 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the Israeli Army says are now dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,800 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

President Milei has regularly affirmed Argentina’s geopolitical alignment with the United States and Israel and offered his “undeniable” solidarity to the Middle East nation.

One of his first trips as head of state was to Israel, where Milei showed off his support for the nation and his spiritual interest in Judaism. He has also travelled to the United States to receive an “Ambassador of Light” award, given to him by the Orthodox Jewish Jabad Lubavitch community.


– TIMES/AFP

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