Pompeo Threatens to Target 'Corrupt' ICC Over Israel, U.S. War Crime Probes

U.S. secretary of state says to expect a series of announcements from the American government pushing back against ICC 'in the coming days'

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, May 2020.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, May 2020. Credit: Reuters
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the Trump administration would soon release a series of announcements against the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Pompeo’s announcement comes against the backdrop of ICC investigation against the United States for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and pre-trial procedures against Israel and Hamas.    

Speaking in an American Enterprise Institute podcast, Pompeo said that “You’ll see in the coming days a series of announcements not just from the State Department, from all across the United States government that attempt to push back against what the ICC is up to.”

Pompeo added that “The ICC and the world will see that we are determined to prevent having Americans and our friends and allies in Israel and elsewhere hauled in by this corrupt ICC.”

Pompeo’s remarks join previous statements by the Trump administration following the ICC’s decision to investigate alleged war crimes of American troops in Afghanistan.

About two weeks ago, Pompeo arrived in Israel for a lightning visit that he said will focus on Iran, the plan to annex the settlements, the joint battle against the coronavirus and other regional issues.

Following Pompeo’s visit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the ICC investigation against Israel constitutes a strategic threat to the Jewish State.

On Monday, Netanyahu spoke with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, possibly discussing ICC moves against Israel and the United States.

In May, the ICC requested the Palestinian Authority to provide clarification regarding Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' recent declaration that he is ending all agreements with Israel and the U.S., which may have ramifications for questions of international jurisdiction in the Palestinian territory.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry confirmed it would respond to the inquiry by a June 10 deadline .

In December 2019, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated that there is readonable basis to investigate Israel and Hamas for its actions but has requested the court to decide over the question of its jurisdiction in the Palestinians territories.

Israel's attorney general argued that the ICC, to which Israel is not a party, "lacks jurisdiction in relation to Israel and that any Palestinian actions with respect to the court are legally invalid," as the Palestinian Authority is not a sovereign states, although it has joined the ICC's Rome Statute. In January, the court delayed its debate because the prosecutor exceeded the allowed page limit, causing a procedural error.

Trump has previously warned the court against trying to prosecute Israelis or Americans following a complaint by Palestinians, which have called for an ICC investigation of Israel. 

"Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response," Trump said.

"This is a major international victory, not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law," Trump said in a statement. "We welcome this decision and reiterate our position that the United States holds American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards." 

The United States doesn’t recognize the authorities of the ICC and isn’t a member of it.

The ICC investigation has strained the international body’s relationship with the United States. The American administration has already slapped some sanctions on the ICC, with President Donald Trump threatening to intensify them.   

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