Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

 Palestinians carry injured people following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014. At least 10 people were killed in a fresh strike on a UN school in southern Gaza which was sheltering Palestinians displaced by an Israeli military offensive, medics said. (Photo by Ali Hassan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Palestinians rush to aid children injured in an August 3, 2014 Israeli attack on a United Nations school in Rafah, Gaza that killed 10 people. (Photo: Ali Hassan/Andalou Agency/Getty Images)

'No One Is Above the Law': Rashida Tlaib Rips Biden Admin's Opposition to ICC War Crimes Probe of Israel

The Michigan congresswoman said the ICC "has the authority and duty to independently and impartially investigate and deliver justice to victims of human rights violations and war crimes in Palestine."

Brett Wilkins

Responding to the Biden administration's opposition to the International Criminal Court's investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes in Palestine, Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Wednesday defended the probe while reminding the administration that "no one is above the law." 

"It isn't unfair to investigate a country for committing war crimes when it has actually, like, committed war crimes."
—Juan Cole, 
Informed Comment

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. "firmly opposes" the ICC investigation while vowing to "continue to uphold our strong commitment to Israel and its security, including by opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly." In addition to alleged Israeli crimes, the probe will also examine war crimes allegedly committed by the militant Palestinian resistance group Hamas. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price asserted the same day that the ICC—of which neither Israel nor the U.S. are member states—has "no jurisdiction over this matter." 

However, Tlaib (D-Mich.) issued a scathing rebuke of the administration's position, tweeting "no one is above the law" and that the ICC "has the authority and duty to independently and impartially investigate and deliver justice to victims of human rights violations and war crimes in Palestine and Israel."

"The U.S. should not interfere with its ability to do so," insisted Tlaib, the first Palestinian American elected to Congress. 

On Wednesday, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda confirmed the decision, announced early last month, to launch a formal investigation of "the situation in Palestine," including three major wars in Gaza that killed thousands of people—most of them civilians. 

Bensouda said on Wednesday that the court's decision "followed a painstaking preliminary examination undertaken by my office that lasted close to five years," while vowing her office "will take the same principled, non-partisan approach that it has adopted in all situations." 

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's far-right prime minister, called Bensouda's announcement "absurd" and—in a tactic often employed in attempts to delegitimize criticism of Israeli policies and actions—"undiluted anti-Semitism." 

Palestine advocates, however, welcomed the ICC probe, while condemning U.S. opposition to it.

"Blinken is flat out wrong on every point he makes," wrote Middle East expert Juan Cole. "The ICC is not investigating crimes on Israeli soil, but in the Palestinian occupied territories. Since Palestine as a permanent U.N. observer state is a member of the ICC and invited the court into its territory, the International Criminal Court has every right to investigate violations of the Rome Statute that took place in those territories."

"The ICC is not treating Israel unfairly," asserted Cole. "It will also look at Hamas violations. Moreover, it isn't unfair to investigate a country for committing war crimes when it has actually, like, committed war crimes."

"Blinken already let the crown prince of Saudi Arabia off without sanctions for murdering Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi," he added. "Now he is running interference for Netanyahu. He is quickly becoming the face of American hypocrisy, which only wants sanctions on Russians and Iranians who are rivals but never on officials from countries that talk nice about the U.S."

Last year, the ICC also approved a probe of U.S. war crimes, including unlawful killing and torture, in Afghanistan. The Trump administration retaliated by sanctioning ICC prosecutors Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Fears of Escalation as Ukraine Answers Russian Missile Onslaught With Strike Deep Inside Invader's Territory

Ukrainian drones bombed two air bases more than 300 miles inside Russia, reportedly killing three soldiers, wounding four others, and damaging multiple warplanes.

Brett Wilkins ·

Patient Groups Push Congress to Combat Big Pharma Greed in Spending Bill

"As Congress works toward finalizing an end-of-year budget package, we urge the chambers to include bipartisan legislation to address abuse of the Food and Drug Administration's citizen petition process in order to reduce drug prices and save the government hundreds of millions of dollars."

Brett Wilkins ·

10,000+ Sign Open Letter Demanding Biden Order Paid Sick Leave for Railway Workers

"No one, especially in the world's richest nation, should have to choose between forgoing pay or working through severe illness and family emergencies," says The Lever's letter.

Jessica Corbett ·

Right-Wing SCOTUS Majority Signals Support for Anti-LGBTQ+ Reactionaries

"It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes 'reeducation training' on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules," said one court observer.

Julia Conley ·

Report Reveals Corporate Capture of Global Biodiversity Efforts Ahead of Summit

"Their 'solutions' are carefully crafted in order to not undermine their business models; ultimately they do nothing for the environment," said one Friends of the Earth campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo