ICC Seen Blocking Progress on Ending Gaza War With ‘Outrageous’ Plan To Seek Arrests of Top Israeli Officials

The American national security adviser is promoting a deal that he claims could lead to a Saudi-Israeli peace agreement and create a regional front against the Islamic Republic of Iran, but the ICC prosecutor’s plan is called a ‘new roadblock.’

AP/Evan Vucci
The national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, during a press briefing at the White House, July 11, 2022. AP/Evan Vucci

Could an “outrageous” announcement from the Hague spoil President Biden’s diplomatic efforts to end the Gaza war and rearrange the Mideast — and all before the November election?  

The American national security adviser, Jacob Sullivan, was at Jerusalem Monday, following a trip to Riyadh. He is promoting a deal that he claims could lead to a Saudi-Israeli peace agreement and create a regional front against the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Mr. Sullivan landed, though, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor, Karim Kahn, announced he is seeking to arrest Israel’s prime minister and defense minister. 

Mr. Kahn’s announcement is a “new roadblock” to the White House’s post-Gaza war plans, a Washington Post columnist with deep ties to the administration, David Ignatius, writes Tuesday. He cites an unidentified Israeli official as saying that the ICC’s move “changes everything in a way we are yet to understand.”

During a Senate hearing Tuesday, Secretary Blinken accused Israel of undermining the intensified Riyadh-Jerusalem diplomacy. “The Saudis demand a cease-fire in Gaza and a pathway to a Palestinian state,” he said. “And it may well be that Israel isn’t able, or willing, to proceed down this pathway.” 

Separately, Mr. Blinken referred to Washington’s diplomatic efforts to promote a Gaza cease-fire for a hostage release, which he said “still has a chance” to succeed but is “challenged by a number of events.”

One of these events, Mr. Blinken said, is “the extremely wrongheaded decision by the ICC’s prosecutor yesterday, the shameful equivalence implied between Hamas and the leadership of Israel, I think it only complicates the prospects for getting such an agreement.”   

In truth, the hostage deal was undermined by Hamas’s refusal to accept terms worked out between Egypt and the CIA director, William Burns. After Prime Minister Netnayahu agreed, Hamas presented new demands it knew Israel would reject. 

Following the collapse of the cease-fire talks, Mr. Sullivan returned to promoting a Saudi deal involving a Washington-Riyadh defense treaty. American and Saudi officials say they are close to finalizing the details. Yet, the Senate is unlikely to ratify a treaty with Riyadh unless it is linked to Saudi-Israeli peace. 

Mr. Netanyahyu’s top adviser, Ron Dermer, has long worked with Washington counterparts behind closed doors to hash out the complex details of a Saudi-Israeli deal, a diplomatic correspondent at Israel’s Channel 12, Dana Weiss, reported Tuesday. Yet, she added, the prime minister may fear a breakup of his ruling coalition, which includes partners who oppose the deal.

Speaking to ABC News about the ICC decision Tuesday, Mr. Netanyahu was also asked about post-war Gaza. “The day after the war is first of all the day after Hamas,” he said. “You have to destroy Hamas because otherwise Gazans don’t have a future, peace doesn’t have a future, the expansion of peace doesn’t have a future.” 

Following the terror organization’s demise, Mr. Netnayahu added, Gaza needs to be demilitarized, and “Israel will have the overall responsibility to fight resurgent terrorists.” Then Israel will “seek a civilian administration by Gazans who are not affiliated with Hamas and also don’t seek the destruction of Israel.”

Lastly, the premier added, there will be a need to “rebuild Gaza in a peaceful way, using the support of moderate Arab states and the international community.” While he did not name these Arab states, he might have hinted that the Saudis could play a role as part of Mr. Sullivan’s plan. 

That plan includes “peace with Saudi Arabia, a regional defense alliance against Iran, investment of billions of dollars in Gaza reconstruction with Israel’s influence, and release of the hostages as part of ending the war deal,” the Israeli army radio diplomatic correspondent, Yanir Cozin, reports Tuesday. 

These details mostly correspond with Mr. Netanyahu’s “day after” plans, as he relayed on ABC. Mr. Netayahu’s seems to also agree to “a new mechanism of the civil administration of Gaza which is neither a military government of Israel nor Hamas, but a civilian Palestinian management with the cooperation of the countries in the region,” which according to Mr. Cozin is part of Mr. Sullivan’s roadmap.

The most contentious part of the American-Saudi plan is that Jerusalem would need to publicly state that it is “willing to create a political horizon for the two-state solution.” That formulation represents a concession by the Saudis, who had earlier demanded a full Israeli acceptance of a Palestinian state. 

Yet, many right wing Israelis say that any statement about Palestinian statehood at this time would reward the Palestinians for the October 7 attack, invite future attacks, and signal to Arabs that Hamas’s aggression is the way to pressure Israel. 

While the October 7 attack might have spoiled last year’s attempt at a U.S.-Saudi-Israeli deal, now the failure could be blamed on the ICC. The president called the Hague’s announcement “outrageous” — and on that, at least, Mr. Netanyahu fully agrees. 


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