(JTA) – The Biden administration removed sanctions that President Donald Trump had imposed on International Criminal Court officials while continuing to decry the ICC’s work targeting U.S. and Israeli personnel. “These decisions reflect our assessment that the measures adopted were inappropriate and ineffective,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday in a statement.
“We continue to disagree strongly with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations,” Blinken said, referring to separate investigations into alleged war crimes by U.S. and Israeli personnel. “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,” he said, referring to the fact that neither Israel or the United States have accepted ICC jurisdiction. “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.”
Trump last year imposed economic sanctions and travel restrictions against ICC workers directly involved in investigating American troops and intelligence officials for possible war crimes in Afghanistan. In the same executive order, Trump said he may extend the sanctions against investigations into U.S. allies, naming Israel. Israel backed Trump’s sanctions and reportedly asked Biden not to remove them.
The Palestinian Authority in February cleared a major hurdle to getting the ICC to prosecute Israelis when an ICC panel decided the court has jurisdiction to investigate Israelis and Palestinian terrorists, including from Hamas, for alleged crimes during the 2014 Gaza War.
Main Photo: Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor, at the court in The Hague, Netherlands, July 8, 2019. (Eva Plevier/AFP via Getty Images)