Amal Clooney advised ICC on arrest warrants for Israel officials, Hamas leaders

Human rights attorney Amal Clooney on Monday revealed she helped advise the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor behind the arrest warrants for three Hamas leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense ministers.

Clooney was among a panel of legal experts gathered by ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan to assess the evidence behind his requests for the arrest warrants, according to a statement on her Clooney Foundation for Justice website.

The requested arrest warrants  are for Yahya Sinwar, the head of the Hamas movement in Gaza; Ismail Haniyeh, the top political leader for Hamas; and Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, the commander of the Hamas military wing. ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said all  “bear criminal responsibility” for war crimes against Israel, including sexual violence, kidnappings and extermination.

Clooney, the wife of actor George Clooney, said the panel’s legal findings were unanimous in that there are “reasonable grounds” to pursue charges against those named in the search warrant.

 “We have unanimously determined that the Court has jurisdiction over crimes committed in Palestine and by Palestinian nationals,” Clooney said.

“I served on this Panel because I believe in the rule of law and the need to protect civilian lives,” she added later. “The law that protects civilians in war was developed more than 100 years ago and it applies in every country in the world regardless of the reasons for a conflict.”

Clooney has represented hundreds of victims of mass aggression and faced criticism in recent months for not speaking up enough against Israel’s wartime conduct in Gaza that has killed more than 35,000 people since early October, per local health officials.

Others on the legal panel included legal experts Theodor Meron, former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Lord Justice Fulford, a former ICC judge, and Baroness Helena Kennedy, a Labour member of the House of Lords.

A panel of three judges will now determine whether to issue the warrants and allow a case to proceed. The process could take several weeks.

Khan’s request drew sharp criticism from Hamas leaders and Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, who described it as an “outrageous decision.”

President Biden slammed what he also called an “outrageous” request from Khan.

“The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous,” Biden said in a statement. “And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.  We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

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Biden’s Israel approval gets lowest mark yet in new poll

The approval rating for President Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war has dropped to its lowest point in a new poll, as the fighting continues in Gaza.

The latest Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found Biden with a 36 percent job approval rating on the conflict, down from 39 percent last month and 44 percent back in October, when the question was first posed. 

“Biden’s ratings have weakened each month in the Israel-Hamas conflict as Biden has shifted his positions and most see his shift as political. Support for Israel remains unchanged,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll. 

Just over half of respondents, or 53 percent, think Biden’s policy on Israel is being directed in part by “perceived domestic politics” and not merely what’s best for the national interest in a secure Israel. 

Three-quarters of respondents said Israel should move forward “with an operation in Rafah to finish the war with Hamas, doing its best to avoid casualties even though there will be casualties.” A quarter picked the other option — that Israel should “back off now and allow Hamas to continue running Gaza.” 

Biden said earlier this month that he will not provide offensive weapons to Israel if it moves forward with a major military operation in Rafah, but 57 percent in the poll said Biden should continue to provide Israel with weapons even if it does so. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued that moving into Rafah will aid in getting at Hamas leaders.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. That’s why I’ve called for an immediate cease-fire, an immediate cease-fire to stop the fighting. Bring the hostages home,” Biden said over the weekend in remarks at Morehouse College, speaking to the campus crowd in the wake of nationwide student protests over his handling of the war. 

“I support peaceful, nonviolent protest. Your voices should be heard. And I promise you, I hear them,” Biden said. 

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Netanyahu over the weekend to urge Israel to limit its military operation in Gaza and reiterated the president’s position on Rafah.

The survey was conducted from May 15-16 among 1,660 registered voters by the Harris Poll and HarrisX. The margin of error for the total sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points. 

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