Johnson Steps Up, Pleads with Biden to Block ICC’s Alleged Attempts to Arrest Netanyahu

The crescendoing tensions in the tension-stricken Middle East never cease to capture global headlines, the most recent among them being a call from United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson to US President Joe Biden, urging the latter to intervene in the International Criminal Court’s alleged plan to issue an arrest warrant for Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the report, PM Johnson’s unexpected intervention has raised eyebrows across the political spectrum. In his letter to the White House, Johnson defended Israel’s claim to sovereignty, authenticity, and its right to self-defense, while contending that the ICC should not have jurisdiction over a non-member state like Israel.

Israel, much like the US, is not a member of the ICC and has not recognized Kampala as a jurisdiction. The control and oversight powers of ICC over non-members are subjects of fierce debates among international law experts. However, in matters of international criminal justice, PM Johnson expressed the concern that the ICC is overstepping its boundaries by daring to arrest a leader of a sovereign, non-member state.

In their mission statement, the ICC asserts its role to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. The court’s alleged plan to issue an arrest warrant for PM Netanyahu is probably a titanic leap to achieving that goal as it would imply holding leaders accountable for their actions, irrespective of their political clout. Nonetheless, the potential arrest warrant’s legality and equity are being called into question, more so when it involves a potent figure like Netanyahu.

The argument put forth by PM Johnson that the ICC is exceeding its mandate has wider implications. It brings into question the effectiveness of international institutions like the ICC in conducting fair investigations without transgressing the thin line of national sovereignty. Moreover, it fuels the simmering debate about the relevance of such supranational institutions in enforcing international justice.

The US and Israel share a deep-rooted, historical alliance that spans over several decades, shaping the Middle Eastern geopolitics extensively. Given the brimming lobby in the United States Congress that supports and sympathizes with Israel, it’s likely that PM Johnson’s appeal may not fall on deaf ears.

While President Biden has shown a keen interest in restoring multilateral relationships and enhancing global cooperation during his tenure, he also has to tread carefully so as not to exacerbate the tensions in the Middle East. Whether or not he responds to Johnson’s plea could determine the future of not only US-Israel relations but also the efficacy of global governance structures such as the ICC.

In a world increasingly replete with unconventionality, how these events will pan out remains to be seen. Will international neutrality and the quest for justice triumph over national sovereignty and political power play? Or will it merely become another addendum in the annals of international relations, where might often takes precedence over right? The unfolding of these events would undeniably shape the dynamics of international politics, casting a long shadow over the international justice system.