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Roving Periscope: “Genocide Joe” Biden slams ICC prosecutor’s plea for warrants against Bibi, others

Roving Periscope: “Genocide Joe” Biden slams ICC prosecutor’s plea for warrants against Bibi, others

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Calling the death of over 35,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as “no genocide”, Joe Biden on Monday slammed the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s plea for arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the poll-bound US President called the move “shameful, outrageous.”

Addressing a Jewish American Heritage Month event at the White House, while rejecting criticism from pro-Palestinian protesters across America and its universities, Biden strongly defended Israel, saying Israeli forces are not committing genocide in their military campaign against Hamas terrorists.

“What’s happening in Gaza is not genocide. We reject that,’ he declared.

Biden has faced protests at many of his events around the country from pro-Palestinian advocates who have labeled him “Genocide Joe” for his steadfast support for Israel, the media reported on Tuesday.

He said he believed that Israel was the victim of the October 7, 2023, attack on southern Israel by Hamas terrorists who killed 1,200 people and took hundreds of hostages.

The US support for the safety and security of Israelis is “ironclad,” he announced. “We stand with Israel to take out (Hamas chief Yahya) Sinwar and the rest of the butchers of Hamas. We want Hamas defeated. We’re working with Israel to make that happen.”

Negotiations have stalled between Israel and Hamas in trying to gain the freedom of sick, elderly, and wounded hostages still held by the militia, but Biden vowed not to give up trying to gain their release.

“We’re going to get them home, we’re going to get ’em home, come hell or high water,” the US President, 82, said.

“And let me be clear: Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.”

The US “will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

He also called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and rejected ICC’s prosecutor Karim Khan for requesting arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over alleged war crimes.

Khan, whom an angry Israel condemned as the “greatest anti-semite”, said he had also requested arrest warrants for Hamas chief Sinwar and two other Hamas leaders.

Biden in recent months has faced growing political pressure from his own party over his handling of the Gaza conflict, as the Palestinian death toll climbed to more than 35,000 people, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and Israel’s siege has created dire humanitarian conditions in the territory.

Neither the United States nor Israel is a member of the ICC, which was set up in 2002 as a court of last resort for the world’s worst crimes.

Asked whether President Biden favored ICC arrest warrants for Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, and political chief Ismail Haniyeh, White House spokesman John Kirby said “We don’t believe the ICC has jurisdiction in this matter.”

Biden’s support for Netanyahu over the ICC bid comes despite Washington recently withholding a shipment of bombs to Israel in a bid to warn off an offensive in the southern city of Rafah.

As Washington moved to defend its key ally, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that the Hague-based court’s move could harm ceasefire talks to end the Gaza conflict. He said the US “fundamentally rejects” the ICC prosecutor’s arrest bid.

“We reject the prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas. It is shameful,” Blinken said, adding “This decision does nothing to help, and could jeopardize, ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement that would get hostages out and surge humanitarian assistance in.”

US lawmakers were reportedly considering a legislative response punishing the ICC, amid bipartisan fury among Republicans and Democrats.
Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson slammed the ICC’s “baseless and illegitimate” decision.

He accused Biden of a “pressure campaign” against Israel, saying the country was “fighting a just war for survival.”

Biden faces political pressure on both sides ahead of a November election clash with Donald Trump, with pro-Gaza student protests roiling US campuses while Republicans accuse him of failing to fully back Israel.

The White House has previously refused to comment on whether the US could take retaliatory action including sanctions against the ICC if it targeted Israel.

In 2020, the administration of then-president Donald Trump targeted the ICC with sanctions over its investigation into Afghanistan, but the Biden administration later lifted them.

However, Washington’s ambiguous position over the court is reflected by the fact that it has backed the ICC’s attempt to prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday that the US will keep assisting the ICC on its investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine despite denouncing the Israel move.

“Regarding the question of whether or not we will continue to provide support to the ICC concerning crimes that are committed in Ukraine, yes, we continue that work,” Austin told reporters.


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