Is it conceivable that Israel’s Prime Minister will one day be arrested on German soil? Criticism of the German government’s stance on the actions of the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israel is growing louder.

There is currently no arrest warrant for the Israeli Prime Minister, said Constantin Ganß, member of the executive committee of the German-Israeli Society, to the Tagesspiegel: “Foreign Minister Baerbock is an international law expert! She will know full well that the Chief Prosecutor is violating Article 17 of the Rome Statute.”

The Rome Statute is the treaty basis for the International Criminal Court. Article 17 clearly states that “the ICC is only responsible if the state in question is unwilling or unable to carry out an investigation,” said Ganß. There is no reason to blame the Israeli judiciary for this.

In the past, Israeli courts have not shied away from indicting Israeli politicians and senior military officials. After all, an independent judiciary is essential for a democracy like Israel. “That’s why it’s very irritating that the German government spokesman is taking part in such speculation,” said Ganß.

When asked on Wednesday whether Germany would abide by the decisions of the International Criminal Court, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit replied: “Yes, we abide by the law.” Germany is “in principle” a supporter of the ICC.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz criticized the simultaneous application for arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leadership of the radical Islamic Hamas. This is “an absurd perpetrator-victim reversal,” Merz told the “Bild” newspaper on Wednesday. “But the silence of the federal government, including the government spokesman’s suggestion that Netanyahu could be arrested on German soil, is now really becoming a scandal.”

The International Criminal Court was set up “to hold despots and authoritarian state leaders accountable, not to arrest democratically elected members of the government,” said the CDU leader.

Merz demanded a statement from Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD): “What is the much-vaunted solidarity with Israel worth if the German government spokesman allows himself to be carried away with such statements? And is that also the Chancellor’s opinion?”

According to the former president of the German-Israeli Society, Reinhold Robbe (SPD), Germany would have to execute an arrest warrant from the ICC in case of doubt. The Basic Law is just as non-negotiable as international law, to which Germany has contractually committed itself, Robbe told the Tagesspiegel: “For this reason, the question of whether the federal government would oppose a decision by the International Criminal Court is obsolete. Of course, she would accept any decision, including the execution of a possible arrest warrant against Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Robbe said that it was “not at all within the discretion of the current or a future federal government not to execute such an arrest warrant.”

The Gaza war caused by the terrorist Hamas has led to untold suffering on both sides, said longtime former SPD member of the Bundestag Robbe. Only after the end of the war would full details of the unprecedented mass murder of 1,200 Jewish civilians and the kidnapping and mistreatment of 240 hostages come to light. “And it will also have to be clarified whether the manner in which Israel defended itself was always appropriate and flawless under international law,” said Robbe.

It is questionable whether the timing of the application for the arrest warrant against Netanyahu and Hamas boss Sinwar in the middle of the Gaza war is justified. The elected Prime Minister Netanyahu is being put “intentionally or unintentionally on the same level as the self-proclaimed terrorist leader Sinwar” by the chief prosecutor of the ICC, said Robbe.

In addition, one must ask what an arrest warrant from the ICC could actually achieve if, alongside Israel, the USA and Russia do not recognize the ICC at all. “That’s why the ICC in particular has to put up with critical questions,” said Robbe. “It serves neither peace in the Middle East nor legal peace if the ICC simply ignores recognizable conflicting goals.”

On Monday, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan requested arrest warrants against Netanyahu and his defense minister Yoav Gallant as well as against the leaders of the radical Islamic Palestinian organization Hamas for alleged crimes against humanity and suspected war crimes.

Israel reacted angrily. The USA also criticized the actions of the ICC chief prosecutor against Netanyahu and Gallant. (with AFP)

By Daniel Friedrich Sturm

The original for this article “Arrest Netanyahu? “Baerbock is an international lawyer!”” comes from Tagesspiegel.