Skip to main content

As Israel awaits Hamas response, Netanyahu frets over possible ICC warrants

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems torn between trying to reassure the International Criminal Court and appeasing his hard-line coalition partners on the Cairo cease-fire talks.
BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 16: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (not pictured) visit the Gleis 17 memorial, which commemorates Berlin Jews deported by the Nazis to concentration camps during World War II, during a one-day visit by Netanyahu on March 16, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. Netanyahu's visit is being accompanied by protests in Berlin today, including both by people angry over Israel’s policies towards Palestinians as well as those critical of possible new legislat

TEL AVIV — As Israel awaits Hamas' response to the Egyptian-mediated proposal for a hostage deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has another problem on his plate. Reports of fervent contacts between Netanyahu and Washington betray the Israeli leader's anxiety over reports that the International Criminal Court is preparing arrest warrants for himself and other top officials over alleged war crimes in Gaza. 

The prime minister has been working intensely to head off such a move as credible reports emerge that the warrants could be issued later this week. 

Can Biden help?

As he has done in times of trouble, Netanyahu turned to President Joe Biden, urging him to intervene at The Hague, although neither the United States nor Israel are members of the ICC. In a phone conversation with Biden on Sunday, Netanyahu warned that warrants for himself, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, military chief Herzi Halevi and possibly others would sink efforts to reach a hostage deal with Hamas and force Israel to immediately invade Rafah. According to a White House readout of the conversation, Biden “reiterated his clear position” regarding a planned Israeli ground offensive in Rafah. High-ranking political sources told Al-Monitor that Biden has "vetoed" the operation.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.