In his first phone call with the Biden administration, Netanyahu requested that the sanctions imposed by Trump on the ICC remain in place.
Israeli officials are concerned that removing the sanctions would hamper Israel’s efforts to stop a potential war crimes investigation into Israel, and that the court’s prosecutor could see it as a signal that the U.S. isn’t firmly opposed to that investigation.
ICC judges cleared the way for a potential investigation last month when they ruled that the court has jurisdiction in the West Bank and Gaza.
Neither Israel nor the United states are members of the Rome Statue, a pact that established the ICC, but the Palestinian territories are.
Israel is very concerned that any investigation could lead to international arrest warrants against Israeli officials and military officers and could boost BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns against Israel.
Trump sanctioned the ICC and threatened to sanction their judges after they elected to pursue an investigation into the war in Afghanistan.
Israeli diplomats have made the case to their U.S. counterparts that even if the administration disagrees with the sanctions, it should keep them in place as leverage to persuade Bensouda and her successor not to pursue the investigations into Afghanistan or the West Bank and Gaza.
Fatou Bom Bensouda is a Gambian lawyer and international criminal law prosecutor. She has been the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor since June 2012.