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ICC war crimes charge strengthens Netanyahu's position in Israel

ICC war crimes charge strengthens Netanyahu's position in Israel
ICC war crimes charge against Netanyahu strengthens him in Israel | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take to kick off your week.

Plenty of breaking news right now. And what I want to focus on is the International Criminal Court, the ICC, which is now seeking arrest warrants for Hamas leadership and Israel's leadership, putting both on a level with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been friends with both Hamas leadership and Netanyahu over the years.

So it's kind of an interesting club. But this is certainly a challenging headline. And if you're watching this around the world and you're seeing that the International Criminal Court is making these cases against Sinwar who runs Hamas and other senior deputies, and the Israeli prime minister and the minister of defense.

What you are seeing, what you feel, the takeaway you would have is moral equivalence, culpability. Well, both of these must be, you know, sort of engaged in crimes against humanity, acting against international law. These are bad people. These are criminals. And I mean, I want to just take a step back for a second. Seven months after the worst killing of Jews since the Holocaust, you are seeing that democratically elected leaders of Israel, the only strong, albeit far from perfect democracy in the Middle East, is being put on the same plane as the terrorists that raped and tortured and killed Israeli citizens, still, seven months later, holding them hostage and want to destroy Israel as a country. That is an extraordinary headline for people to see and people around the world who are on very different sides of this conflict will respond to that very differently, radically differently.

But it's important to recognize what exactly we're seeing and just how far, if you will, the world has moved in what it thinks about this conflict, over the course of the seven months since October 7th. It's clearly bad for the United States and the Biden administration, in particular that President Biden is supporting the Israeli government, is the strongest ally of Israel of any country in the world. It continues, to send weapons, to share intelligence, and to broadly support the war against Hamas. Its continuation though certainly with significant disagreements in the way that the war has been conducted. It's also important to recognize that the United States has itself put out a report that said that war crimes, it believed, were likely to have been committed by the Israeli Defense Forces on the ground in Gaza, says it doesn't have sufficient evidence, to make those claims definitively because the Israelis have not provided the evidence requested by the United States.

But it is worth mentioning that a lot of what the Biden administration, including the secretary of state, the national security adviser, the director of the CIA, all of those have been making trips to Israel over the past months. A lot of what they've been saying privately to Israel, the opposition to using starvation as a tool of war, the demands that humanitarian aid in much greater amount be allowed in, the targeting of civilians with far less restraint than the Americans would want to see.

A lot of that is indeed reflected, though with much sharper language and publicly, in the ICC report. But of course, the United States and Israel, like Russia, do not recognize the ICC as a legitimate body. Most countries around the world do, the vast majority. But the Americans and the Israelis, do not. The response here is going to be stronger support for the Israeli government inside Israel, stronger support for the Israeli prime minister and defense minister inside Israel. The idea for any Israeli civilian, any Israeli civilian that their country, that their leadership could be somehow put in equivalence to the terrorist organization that attacked them on October 7th is utterly unthinkable. And so they're going to support their leadership in response to that claim makes it harder to remove the Israeli prime minister and government, something that certainly the United States and many around the world would like to see. It also puts the hard right in Israel in a stronger position, because that's what the PM needs to maintain his leadership.

And of course, this is a group that is much more equivalent to Hamas. Yes they were also democratically elected. There are many, many parties in Israel, and some of them are very extreme. And they managed to be the critical support to allow for a coalition to be established. But they have leaders who regularly, including members of cabinet in Israel, the minister of finance, the minister of national security, though not critically, any members of the War Cabinet, but they have been arguing for the ethnic cleansing of Gaza. They have been arguing for the full and permanent Israeli occupation of that territory, essentially ideologically very similar to Hamas and the axis of resistance. I mean, what you hear them say is from the river to the sea. And if you're Hamas, that means for you, territory should only be for the Palestinians. If you're Israeli on the far right, that means the territory, should belong to the Jews. But neither of which are going to lead to any possible resolution other than greater fighting and war. But it is, of course, one of the true tragedies of the last seven months that these are the two organizations that have become, in a sense, stronger and with veto power over what the rest of the entire world is trying to bring to an end, is trying to create stability and eventually opportunity for these two people to live side by side without fighting each other.

We are farther from that, I'm afraid, today than we were yesterday, and certainly much farther from that today than we were on October 6th. That is it for me. And we'll be watching this, I'm sure, very closely. Thanks.


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