Blinken says ICC arrest warrants on Israeli leaders ‘extremely wrongheaded’

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives for a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on May 21, 2024 in Washington, DC. Blinken is testifying before the committee on President Biden's proposed budget request for the U.S. Department of State's 2025 Budget. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the decision by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor to seek arrest warrants for Israeli leaders on charges of war crimes in Gaza “extremely wrongheaded,” echoing criticism leveled by President Joe Biden.

“The shameful equivalence implied between Hamas and the leadership of Israel, I think that only complicates the prospects for getting such an agreement” on a cease-fire and release of hostages, Blinken said Tuesday at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


He added that the administration was looking at “appropriate steps to take” on the prosecutor’s decision, without commenting further.

The top U.S. diplomat was pressed by lawmakers over the White House’s engagement on the Israel-Hamas war. Blinken has been at the center of Biden’s messaging struggles over the conflict, seeking to project Washington’s “ironclad” support for Israel while restraining its operations in Gaza to avoid further Palestinian civilian deaths and destruction.

Several Democratic senators focused on the humanitarian situation in Gaza and Israeli restrictions that have delayed aid deliveries, as well as the State Department’s recent assessment on Israel’s conduct in the war. Republicans pushed Blinken on the White House’s criticism of the Netanyahu government and its decision to pause a shipment of bombs.

“We have one weapon system that we have been holding back pending discussions with Israel about how and where it would be used,” Blinken said.

In a particularly heated exchange, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas accused Biden and Blinken of effectively funding the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel by releasing Iranian funds and allowing the country to sell increasing amounts of oil in defiance of U.S. sanctions.

“This administration — you and President Biden — funded the Oct. 7 attacks by flowing $100 billion to a homicidal, genocidal regime that funded those attacks,” Cruz said.

“That statement is profoundly wrong,” Blinken responded. “I’m not even going to humor it. I think it’s a disgraceful statement.”

As has happened during several appearances by Biden and cabinet members in recent months, Blinken’s testimony was repeatedly interrupted by protesters who accused him of complicity in the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza.

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