Blinken Blames Hamas for Gazans' Suffering as Herzog Criticizes Potential ICC Warrants

U.S. mediates ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas, but ICC arrest warrants for Israeli leaders threaten to complicate negotiations and strain relations.

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Shivani Chauhan
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Blinken Blames Hamas for Gazans' Suffering as Herzog Criticizes Potential ICC Warrants

Blinken Blames Hamas for Gazans' Suffering as Herzog Criticizes Potential ICC Warrants

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv on May 1, 2024, amid ongoing efforts to broker a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas. During the meeting, Blinken blamed Hamas for the suffering of Gazans and the failure to reach a hostage deal, stating that "the only reason that wouldn't be achieved is because of Hamas."

Blinken expressed optimism about the feasibility of a renewed hostages-for-ceasefire-and-terrorists deal, which he described as "extraordinarily generous" on Israel's part. The proposed deal would allow for a 40-day pause in fighting and the release of dozens of hostages in exchange for a six-week halt in fighting. Blinken called on Hamas to respond to the "strong proposal" offered by Israel, saying "the time to act is now."

Meanwhile, Israeli President Herzog criticized the potential ICC arrest warrants against Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Chief of the Israel Defense Forces Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi. Herzog denounced attempts to "misuse international legal institutions - including the ICC - to deny the state of Israel its basic rights" and stated that Israel has the "full right and duty to free our hostages and defend our citizens." He warned that issuing warrants "will only serve to restrict the hands of all free and democratic nations in the fight against terror."

Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Herzog strongly condemned the possibility of the ICC issuing arrest warrants, calling it an "unprecedented antisemitic hate crime " that would "harm the self-defense not only of the State of Israel, but of all democracies." U.S. lawmakers have also threatened retaliatory action if the ICC issues such warrants, with House Speaker Johnson calling on the Biden administration to demand the ICC to "stand down" and use "every available tool to prevent such an abomination."

Why this matters: The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has killed over 34,000 Palestinians and caused a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The potential ICC arrest warrants against Israeli leaders could further complicate ceasefire negotiations and strain Israel's relations with the international community.

Blinken's visit to Israel is part of his broader Middle East tour aimed at negotiating a ceasefire and addressing the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The war has caused widespread destruction and famine is imminent in northern Gaza due to the Israeli bombardment and ground offensives. Israel plans to open a major humanitarian aid crossing into the region, but Netanyahu has vowed to proceed with a ground assault on Rafah to destroy Hamas regardless of whether a ceasefire deal is reached.

Key Takeaways

  • Blinken blames Hamas for failure to reach hostage deal, calls for ceasefire
  • Israel offers "extraordinarily generous" hostages-for-ceasefire-and-terrorists deal
  • Israel condemns potential ICC arrest warrants against its leaders as antisemitic
  • Ongoing Israel-Hamas war has killed over 34,000 Palestinians, caused humanitarian crisis
  • Blinken's visit aims to negotiate ceasefire, address Gaza's humanitarian situation