EU’s Borrell says member states would have to arrest Netanyahu

All parties to the Rome Statute are bound by the International Criminal Court’s decisions, top EU diplomat has said

All EU member states will be legally forced to oblige, if the International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for top Israeli officials over their alleged war crimes in Gaza, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said.

On Monday, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan applied for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant – as well as Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh – accusing them of “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The European Union has taken “note” of the move, Borrell acknowledged in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

“The mandate of the ICC, as an independent international institution, is to prosecute the most serious crimes under international law,” Borrell wrote, insisting that “All States that have ratified the ICC statutes are bound to execute the Court’s decisions.”

Even though the prosecutor has requested arrest warrants, it may take months of deliberations before a three judge panel decides whether to issue them or not.

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Israel is not a member of the ICC and does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court, but the State of Palestine joined the organization in 2015. The US was one of the creators of the ICC, but Congress never ratified the Rome Statute. Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and dozens of other countries also do not accept the court’s jurisdiction.

However, some 124 countries around the globe have signed and ratified the Rome Statute, including all EU member states and all candidates, except Ukraine and Türkiye. If warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant are issued, it could severely complicate the Israeli leaders’ ability to travel abroad.

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