Biden lifts Trump sanctions on ICC prosecutors

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The Biden administration has lifted sanctions on International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko. Former president Donald Trump imposed the sanctions via Executive Order in June 2020, after it was announced that the court would investigate potential U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan. The ICC has also launched a probe into whether "Israel" committed war crimes in Palestine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the move on April 2, but made it clear that the Biden administration continues to oppose the ICC investigating the United States and "Israel". “We continue to disagree strongly with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations,” read his press statement. “We maintain our longstanding objection to the Court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel. We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders in the ICC process rather than through the imposition of sanctions.”

The ICC’s President of the Assembly of State Parties Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi welcomed the news in a statement. “I trust this decision signals the start of a new phase of our common undertaking to fight against impunity for such crimes,” it reads. “The Assembly and its subsidiary bodies have always welcomed the participation of the United States, and indeed of all States, in their work as well as encouraged a fruitful cooperation with the Court´s activities.”

The United States is not a member country of the ICC.

"Israel" and the ICC

Shortly after Trump imposed sanctions on the ICC, Axios’ Barak Ravid reported that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had flown to "Israel" in order to coordinate the move with Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli media is reporting that Netanyahu will hold a meeting tomorrow to determine whether "Israel" will participate in the investigation or boycott it. The government has until Friday to respond to an ICC letter it got about the probe.

While the Biden administration’s move was welcomed by human rights groups, it was condemned by a number of pro-Israel organizations. “We are disappointed the administration is revoking sanctions on the ICC officials who are pursuing a baseless and discriminatory attack on the Jewish state,” read a tweet from AIPAC’s Twitter account. “We agree with the administration’s position that the Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the U.S. and Israel.”

Earlier this year, Netanyahu encouraged Biden to leave the sanctions in place. “In my phone call with President Biden, we talked about our moral obligation to protect our troops against those who are trying to defame their morality with false claims,” he said during a service for "Israeli" soldiers in February.

Source: This news first appaered in Mondoweiss, along with the cover photo, captioned as FATOU BENSOUDA

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