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Hungary Rejects ICC’s Arrest Warrant Request for Netanyahu

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Hungary Rejects ICC’s Arrest Warrant Request for Netanyahu

Edited by: Fern Sidman

The recent request by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor for an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sparked significant controversy. On Thursday, the Times of Israel reported that Hungary, through a statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, has firmly rejected the ICC’s request, calling it “unacceptable” and unenforceable within its borders.

During a news briefing, Gulyas clarified Hungary’s legal position regarding the ICC.  Although Hungary is a signatory to the Rome Statute, the foundational treaty of the ICC, Gulyas stated that it was never incorporated into Hungarian law, as per the information provided in The Times of Israel report.  “No measure of the court can be carried out within Hungary,” he asserted. This legal nuance effectively means that any arrest warrants issued by the ICC cannot be executed in Hungary.

The ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, announced earlier this week that he had requested arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes. As noted in the TOI report, the announcement has drawn sharp criticism from various quarters, with representatives from both Israel and Hamas condemning the decision.

Gulyas was particularly vocal in his criticism, characterizing the ICC’s decision as politically motivated rather than legally grounded. “This decision… is not a legal but a political decision, it is unacceptable and it discredits the International Criminal Court,” he said. As was indicated in the TOI report, he further criticized the use of judicial bodies as political instruments, highlighting the complexities and moral considerations surrounding the conflict in Gaza. “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.”

Netanyahu’s close relationship with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been in power since 2010, calls attention to the political dimensions of Hungary’s stance. The TOI also reported that Orban and Netanyahu have maintained strong bilateral ties, often supporting each other on international platforms. This relationship is likely a significant factor in Hungary’s outright rejection of the ICC’s actions against Netanyahu.

Hungary’s refusal to enforce the ICC’s arrest warrants raises broader questions about the effectiveness and reach of international judicial bodies like the ICC. The court’s ability to prosecute alleged war crimes hinges not only on its legal mandates but also on the cooperation of member states. Hungary’s position could encourage other nations with similar legal structures or political alliances to adopt a non-cooperative stance towards the ICC.

 

This development also reflects the ongoing tension between international legal institutions and national sovereignty. While the ICC aims to hold individuals accountable for serious international crimes, its authority is often challenged by political considerations and differing interpretations of international law.

As the situation unfolds, the ICC’s credibility and influence in global justice may be tested, and the political alliances between nations such as Hungary and Israel will likely play a crucial role in shaping the response to these legal challenges.

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