Hungary says ICC warrant against Israel’s Netanyahu ‘unacceptable’

By Thomson Reuters May 23, 2024 | 4:48 AM

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – The International Criminal Court prosecutor’s request for an arrest warrant against Israel’s prime minister is “unacceptable” and could not be enforced in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff said on Thursday.

Gergely Gulyas told a news briefing that, although Hungary ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it “was never made part of Hungarian law,” meaning that no measure of the court can be carried out within Hungary.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said on Monday he had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence chief and three Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes. Representatives of both sides slammed Khan’s decision.

“This decision… is not a legal but a political decision, it is unacceptable and it discredits the International Criminal Court,” Gulyas said.

“It is wrong to use a court as a political tool, and it should not be forgotten what led to what is happening in Gaza, and that is a ruthless, dishonest and vile terrorist attack on Israel,” he said.

All 27 European Union countries are ICC members and EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell noted that they “are bound to execute the court’s decisions”. However, Khan’s move has exposed political differences between European powers over the conflict.

Orban is a long-time ally of Netanyahu and has said that Israel has a right to defend itself.

The war in Gaza erupted after Hamas-led militants stormed into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and seizing over 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Over 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s subsequent military campaign in Gaza, the enclave’s health ministry says.

(Reporting by Anita Komuves and Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Gareth Jones)