Arrest Netanyahu? Tlaib Says Yes – GOP Warns ICC of Unprecedented Turmoil

Alexandros Michailidis /
Alexandros Michailidis /

Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat and member of the notorious “Squad,” has ratcheted up the rhetoric by demanding the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She accuses him of crimes under the Genocide Convention, a charge she lobbed into the mix shortly after Israel’s military action in Rafah—a move she insinuates was practically gift-wrapped with a $14 billion bow of unconditional U.S. funding.

She is also accusing other Israeli officials of violations related to the Genocide Convention under international law. Tlaib added, “Do not be misled, they gave their consent for these atrocities, and our country is actively participating in genocide.” 

The comment comes in response to Israel’s military actions in Rafah, in which Tlaib claims the U.S. is financially supporting the genocide by providing over $14 billion to Israel without imposing human rights conditions.

Tlaib’s statement highlighted the dire situation in Rafah, where she claims over 1.5 million Palestinians, including more than 600,000 children, are trapped without basic necessities due to the conflict. She condemns the Israeli forces for causing extensive civilian casualties and displacements. 

Tlaib also demanded that “President Biden facilitate an immediate, permanent ceasefire that includes a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

Amid these tensions, President Joe Biden has cautioned Netanyahu about the potential consequences of a military invasion of Rafah, reflecting international concern over escalating violence. Tlaib, amplifying her criticism, accusedmany of her congressional colleagues of hypocrisy for voicing concern while previously authorizing military support that enabled these actions.

Tlaib also connects Netanyahu’s continued leadership to ongoing conflict, urging the U.S. to cease military funding to Israel and calling for a comprehensive ceasefire, including the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and the release of detained Palestinians.

Tlaib is demanding the International Criminal Court (ICC ) to issue immediate arrest warrants against Netanyahu and senior Israeli officials for their alleged genocidal actions, which, according to her, blatantly violate international laws on genocide.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials have advised Palestinians in Rafah to evacuate, signaling a forthcoming ground operation in what is considered a stronghold of Hamas.

Despite Tlaib’s provocative stance, her office has not responded to inquiries about whether leaders from Hamas, involved in hostilities on October 7, 2023, should also face legal consequences for their actions.

In contrast, a group of 12 U.S. senators, led by Senator Tom Cotton, has warned the ICC’s prosecutor, Karim A. A. Khan, about severe repercussions if Netanyahu or other Israeli officials are targeted. They argue that such actions lack legal basis and equate ICC’s potential warrants to supporting terrorism, given the context of Hamas’s actions and Iran’s backing. 

The letter the senators sent said, “The ICC is attempting to punish Israel for taking legitimate actions of self-defense against their Iranian-backed aggressors.” Adding that they witnessed the  ‘scenes of calculated cruelty’ conducted by Hamas in Israel. 

The senators emphasized that such measures by the ICC would challenge the legitimacy of Israel’s legal system and democracy, accusing the court of hypocrisy and double standards due to its inaction against officials from Iran, Syria, Hamas, and China.

The senators added that Khan’s office hadn’t issued warrants for top figures like Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, or General Secretary of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, and others.

They also reminded Khan that neither the U.S. nor Israel are ICC members, arguing that any action against them is beyond the court’s jurisdiction. They concluded with a stern warning that any ICC move against Israeli leaders would be met with a strong response from the U.S., including ending American support for the ICC, sanctions, and travel bans.

So, as Tlaib and company call for high-stakes arrests and senators write stern letters reminding the ICC of some inconvenient realities, it remains to be seen what will or will not happen.