Karim Khan. Serving the Prime Minister’s ultimate goal // Photo: Channel 12

The ICC arrest warrants — a great gift to Netanyahu

It also serves Netanyahu’s overarching strategy: isolating Israelis from the world. An enormous majority of Israeli Jews fully support all of Netanyahu’s moves in Gaza. It would be very easy for Netanyahu to convince this public that the ICC in The Hague is actually accusing all Israelis of the crimes attributed to him. And that the whole world is against them. The world is Antisemitic.

The Palestine Project
3 min readMay 22, 2024

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By Rogel Alpher • Translated by Sol Salbe

It takes a decent stretch of the imagination to believe reports of panic and pressure from Benjamin Netanyahu in response to the request of Karim Khan, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, to issue arrest warrants for the prime minister, Defence Minister Yoav Galant, and Hamas leaders. The developments in The Hague are a great gift to Netanyahu in the main area that concerns him and guides his decision-making process — his personal political survival.

An enormous majority of Israeli Jews fully support all of Netanyahu’s moves in Gaza. The criticism, if any, is from the right, demanding even more violent action. It would be very easy for Netanyahu to convince this public that the ICC in The Hague is actually accusing all Israelis of the crimes attributed to him. And that the whole world is against them. The world is Antisemitic. It supports the burning of Jewish babies. In a world that does not distinguish between Sinwar and Netanyahu, it will be easy for him to convince Israelis that it is their duty to show him love. After all, he’s suffering for their sake.

Netanyahu will emphasise that all the Zionist politicians support him and his policies. “Look,” he will say, “even my alleged opponents, Lapid and Gantz, sign petitions supporting me against the court. What alternative to my policy in Gaza do they propose? After all, they openly support it against the world. They stand behind me, in my defence. They wouldn’t have done anything differently.” He will call on them to remain in the government at this time, to join it, to create a broad front against a world that is trying to prevent Israelis from defending themselves.

All said and done, when it’s the most just of wars and Netanyahu is the most correct politician in prosecuting the war, Gantz will find it difficult to carry out his ultimatum and resign from the government. The propaganda charge that would accuse him of being an agent in the service of the interests of Israel’s enemy Karim Khan will be effective. The story in The Hague is easy to market in a simplistic inflammatory package: In the face of arrest warrants, we are all Netanyahu.

It also serves Netanyahu’s overarching strategy: isolating Israelis from the world. This will make it easier for him to convince them that London is not waiting for them. It will be easier for him to institute military rule and renew the settlement project in Gaza, expelling its residents in the process. Neither he, nor the Israelis have anything to lose, would they? After all, they have been charged with war crimes for much less. What will they do to them? Will they be issued more arrest warrants? The perceived equivalence between Netanyahu and Sinwar would, in the eyes of many Israelis, legitimise more radical Israeli actions in Gaza. If you’re going to charged anyhow, you may as well go the whole hog.

It seems that in their heart of hearts most Israelis have come to terms with the fact that the abductees will not come home. Therefore, the protest movement concerning them is not taking off. The “abductees’ families outcry” has unfortunately become a televised ritual that evokes a sense of collective victimhood and self-pity. Ten years ago, an arrest warrant would have really stressed Netanyahu. But he has long since crossed the Rubicon. For years he has been a haunted man, an outlaw, with serious indictments hovering over him, a martyr of the cult that worships him. He lives for such moments.

Translated by Sol Salbe, Middle East News Service

First published by Haaretz Hebrew original:

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