Trump authorizes sanctions against ICC and blasts its investigation of Israel
June 19, 2020
(JTA) — President Donald Trump authorized sanctions against the International Criminal Court should it pursue cases against U.S. citizens and cited what he said was its anti-Israel bias.
In an executive order issued Thursday, Trump approved economic sanctions and travel restrictions against ICC workers directly involved in investigating American troops and intelligence officials for possible war crimes in Afghanistan. The United States has not consented to the investigations. The travel restrictions also apply to the workers’ families.
The U.S. is not a member of the ICC, since it has never signed the Rome Statute, the treaty adopted in 1998 that formed the court.
Israel also is not a member. Still, the court is investigating Israel for committing possible war crimes in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
“The International Criminal Court’s actions are an attack on the rights of the American people and threaten to infringe upon our national sovereignty,” read a statement issued by the White House after Trump signed the executive order. “The International Criminal Court was established to provide accountability for war crimes, but in practice it has been an unaccountable and ineffective international bureaucracy that targets and threatens United States personnel as well as personnel of our allies and partners.
“Despite repeated calls by the United States and our allies to reform, the International Criminal Court has taken no action to reform itself and continues to pursue politically-motivated investigations against us and our allies, including Israel.”
The text of the executive order suggests that sanctions could extend to ICC prosecutors who target Israelis, singling out those who engage “in any effort by the ICC to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute any personnel of a country that is an ally of the United States without the consent of that country’s government.”
Israel was the only ally singled out by name in the statement.
The statement also noted that the White House has “strong reason to believe there is corruption and misconduct at the highest levels of the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor.”
On Monday, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that a war crimes probe against Israel can proceed after determining that the Oslo Accords remain in effect despite Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ declaration that the Palestinians are no longer bound by any treaties with Israel.