European Union leaders are split over a request from International Criminal Court prosecutors for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)


EU leaders split on ICC request for Netanyahu and Hamas arrests


European Union leaders are split over a request from International Criminal Court prosecutors for an arrest warrant to be issued for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

France and Belgium have publicly supported ICC prosecutor Karim Kahn’s call for the PM to be arrested over his involvement in possible crimes against humanity, insisting that the body must be allowed to act independently.

They have also backed the senior legal expert’s decision to request similar warrants for another senior Israel official, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as members of the Hamas terror group.

“France supports the International Criminal Court, its independence, and the fight against impunity in all situations,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

Belgian foreign minister Hadja Lahbib meanwhile wrote on X that his country “supports the work of the International Criminal Court”, adding that Kahn’s request was “an important step in the investigation of the situation in Palestine”.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin also backed the ICC’s actions.

“It is vital that we respect the independence and impartiality of the ICC,” he said.

Not all EU leaders are of this opinion, with some criticising what they said were similarities being drawn between the Israeli State’s actions and those of Hamas.

While voicing support for the body, Germany expressed concern that Kahn could be trying to equate possible crimes committed by Netanyahu with those committed by Hamas.

“The simultaneous application for arrest warrants against the Hamas leaders on the one hand and the two Israeli officials on the other has created the incorrect impression of an equation [equal situation], the country said, before adding that Germany still “respects independence and procedures” of the court.

The Czech Republic’s foreign affairs, Petr Fiala, was harsher on the body, claiming that creating the impression that Israel and Hamas are equivalent was unjustifiable.

“The ICC Chief Prosecutor’s proposal to issue an arrest warrant for the representatives of a democratically elected government together with the leaders of an Islamist terrorist organisation is appalling and completely unacceptable,” Fiala said.

Other EU leaders also condemned the request.

“The ICC Chief Prosecutor’s proposal against Prime Minister Netanyahu is absurd and shameful,” said Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán on X. 

Amid the disagreements over the issue among EU leaders, Joseph Borell High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy pointed out countries that had signed up to the ICC had to comply with its rulings.

“All States that have ratified the ICC statutes are bound to execute the Court’s decisions,” he said.

The alleged crimes the Israeli Prime Minister is accused of by Khan include the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population, extermination and persecution of such.