The Biden administration reportedly plans to lift sanctions imposed by former U.S. President Donald Trump on International Criminal Court officials as early as this week.
"Much as we disagree with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian Situations, the Administration is thoroughly reviewing sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13928 as we determine our next steps," a State Department spokesperson told Haaretz.
The planned move, first reported by Foreign Policy, comes nearly one month after ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the decision to open a formal investigation into war crimes in the Palestinian Territories, which will examine both sides in the conflict. Sources told Foreign Policy that the decision could come within the next two weeks, while another official cautioned that no formal decision has yet been announced.
The United States immediately announced its firm opposition to and disappointment in Bensouda's decision to open an investigation into alleged war crimes, claiming that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the matter since Israel is not a party to the ICC and because the Palestinians do not qualify as a sovereign state.
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Trump first imposed the sanctions in June 2020 in retaliation for the court's intention to probe the conduct of U.S. forces in Afghanistan – a move that former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the move.
Israel was not mentioned in Trump’s original executive order imposing the sanctions, but it was mentioned in a White House press statement that explained the decision. “Despite repeated calls by the United States and our allies to reform, the International Criminal Court has taken no action to reform itself and continues to pursue politically-motivated investigations against us and our allies, including Israel,” the statement said.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most influential lobbying group supporting Israel in the United States, has since urged President Joe Biden to maintain the sanctions on ICC officials pursuing what it called "illegitimate, politically motivated investigations into the U.S. and Israel."