International Relations

Expert Explains: Why the ICC Prosecutor has requested an arrest warrant for Netanyahu, and what may happen now

  • On May 20, 2024, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) requested arrest warrants for Hamas leaders and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in connection with the events of October 7, 2023 and the Palestinian conflict.

For whom has the Prosecutor requested arrest warrants?

  • Arrest warrants have been issued for key Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh, as well as Netanyahu and Israel’s Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant.

The method of ICC decision-making and the scope of the current case:

  • ICC judgements are legally binding, but they rely on the cooperation of member nations for support.
    • A panel of judges at the ICC must rule on the Prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants.
    • If authorised, all State Parties must comply, including arresting and extraditing suspected persons to The Hague.
    • This might limit Netanyahu and Gallant’s overseas travel, including visits to Rome Statute-compliant nations. 
  • Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute. The International Criminal Court (ICC) does, however, have jurisdiction over crimes committed by citizens of both State Parties (such as Palestine) and Non-state Parties (such as Israel) on the territory of a State Party. 

Way forward:

  • Need Enhanced Cooperation: Encouraging increased collaboration between the ICC and the UN to improve their efficacy in combating international crimes.
  • Need Wider Membership: Calling for additional nations to join the Rome Statute as State Parties in order to expand the ICC’s authority and scope. 

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