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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Blinken says ICC Israeli arrest warrants ‘extremely wrongheaded’

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives for a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on May 21, 2024 in Washington, DC. Blinken is testifying before the committee on President Biden's proposed budget request for the U.S. Department of State's 2025 Budget.   (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images of North America/TNS)
By Courtney McBride Bloomberg News

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the decision by International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor to seek arrest warrants for Israeli leaders on charges of war crimes in Gaza as “extremely wrongheaded,” echoing criticism leveled by President Joe Biden.

“The shameful equivalence implied between Hamas and the leadership of Israel, I think that only complicates the prospects for getting such an agreement,” Blinken said Tuesday at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The top U.S. diplomat faced lawmakers as the Biden administration contends with simultaneous international crises, including the Israel-Hamas war and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken has been at the center of Biden’s messaging struggles over the war in Gaza, seeking to project Washington’s “ironclad” support for Israel while restraining its operations in Gaza to avoid further civilian deaths and destruction.

As has happened during several appearances by Biden and cabinet members in recent months, Blinken’s testimony was repeatedly interrupted by protesters who accused him of complicity in the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza.

The secretary has crisscrossed the Middle East since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, seeking to craft a plan for postwar Gaza and keep the conflict from spilling over as a cease-fire remains elusive. He has also sought to constrain Iran’s regional proxies — Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and Shia militias in Iraq and Syria — who’ve sought to capitalize on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Last week, Blinken traveled to Kyiv for the first time since September, pledging steadfast U.S. support and touting the $61 billion US aid package secured after a bruising fight with Congress.