The experts on the arrest warrant against Benjamin Netanyahu

Several Israeli media outlets, citing, among other things, diplomatic sources, state that the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the ICC, is about to issue an arrest warrant against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials.

– You might think it’s a bit surprising, but it wouldn’t be the first time an arrest warrant has been issued against high-ranking people in a war, says Ove Bring, professor of international law.

Not meant to work in practice

An arrest warrant from the ICC would mean that all countries that have ratified the court’s founding document, the Rome Statute, are bound to arrest Netanyahu if he arrives there.

– It is not meant to work in practice straight away. What could happen is that Netanyahu and others refrain from going abroad. If they go to Western democratic countries that have ratified the charter, they risk being left out of The Hague, says Ove Bring.

If a possible arrest warrant is issued, Netanyahu will still be able to travel to his closest ally the United States, as they have not signed and need to extradite him.

– It is unusual for an arrest warrant to be issued, says Ove Bring, but adds that last year the ICC issued one against President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova.

There are also reports that the United States will work to prevent an arrest warrant from being issued. Ove Bring does not think that has any significance.

– If the ICC has decided, then they want to show their independence and professional integrity. The US will not be able to persuade the ICC to lie low if it has decided to act actively, says Ove Bring.

Taken very seriously in Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu came out and said he would never accept any attempt against Israel by the ICC to “undermine its inherent right to self-defense.”

– On the one hand, Israel says that decisions in The Hague have no effect on how they conduct the war in Gaza. But why invest so much resources in preventing it if you don’t see it as significant? There is no doubt that this is taken very seriously in Israel, says Anders Persson, Middle East expert and researcher at Linnaeus University.

He also believes that there is a great fear in Israel of being exposed to sanctions, as this could have a snowball effect, put Israel on a slippery slope and worsen the situation in the country.

– At the same time, it is a political game as well as a legal process, says Anders Persson.

A possible decision from the ICC could put pressure on the US, according to Persson. He believes that a leader like President Biden, who is trying to maintain a rules-based world order, may be pressured to act.

– You can also say that the war in Gaza and in Ukraine is being waged outside the framework of international law. It is difficult for me as a political scientist to see that these conflicts will be resolved in The Hague, says Anders Persson.