Germany Pledges to Comply with Potential ICC Arrest Warrants

Berlin has confirmed it would follow International Criminal Court rulings over alleged war crimes in Gaza

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has said it would cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) if proposed arrest warrants are issued against Israeli leaders, a government spokesman has confirmed. 

Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, government press secretary Steffen Hebestreit was asked whether Berlin would execute an ICC arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over alleged war crimes against the Palestinians.

“Of course, yes, we abide by the law,” he said, as cited by Die Welt.

The statement came after Israel’s ambassador to Berlin, Ron Prosor, urged Scholz’s administration to defy the ICC. The court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, filed on Monday for arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza conflict.

Israel’s government responded by branding the proposed warrants as anti-Semitic and calling for “civilized nations” to boycott any arrest orders against its leaders. Prosor appealed to Berlin directly on Tuesday, saying the German ‘Staatsrason’ – its vow to ensure Israel’s security as part of its own national interest – was being put to the test.

“The public statement that Israel has the right to self-defense loses credibility if our hands are tied as soon as we defend ourselves,” the envoy said. “The chief prosecutor equates a democratic government with Hamas, thereby demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and the Jewish people. He has completely lost his moral compass.”

Prosor added that Germany has a responsibility to “readjust this compass.” He called the warrant applications a “disgraceful political campaign,” saying they could become a “nail in the coffin for the West” and its institutions.

Hebestreit declined to comment directly on the Israeli government’s demands. Germany is a signatory to the ICC and has staunchly supported such multilateral organizations.

France, which is also among the 124 countries that recognize the ICC’s authority, is in the same boat. The French Foreign Ministry affirmed its support for the tribunal on Tuesday, saying it would be up to the court’s pre-trial chamber to decide whether to order the arrests of Israeli and Hamas leaders – based on evidence submitted by the prosecutor.

Neither Israel nor the US is a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC. US President Joe Biden denounced the proposed warrants as “outrageous,” and members of Congress have threatened to sanction the court.