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Interview With ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan; ICC Charges Hamas And Israeli Leaders; Interview With Lead Prosecutor At The Trial Of Slobodan Milosevic And Human Rights Lawyer Geoffrey Nice; Interview With Michael Oren. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 20, 2024 - 13:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


KARIM KHAN, ICC CHIEF PROSECUTOR: Today, Christiane, we've applied for warrants to the pretrial chamber of the International Criminal Court in

relation to three individuals that are Hamas members. We'll apply for warrants for Prime Minister Netanyahu and also Minister of Defense Gallant.


AMANPOUR: The International Criminal Court seeks arrest warrants for Hamas leaders for crimes they committed on October 7th, as well as Israeli

leaders for their acts in the war on Gaza that followed. A world exclusive interview with ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan, who broke the news to me. We'll

dig into the ramifications of this bombshell development, getting international reaction in a special program from The Hague.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in The Hague, where today, the International Criminal Court's prosecutor, Karim Khan,

tells me that he's seeking arrest warrants for three Hamas leaders, Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh, and Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, otherwise known

as Deif, for crimes committed during the October 7th attacks on Israel, where more than 1,200 Israelis were killed and hundreds of others were


The court is also seeking arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, citing the

subsequent war in Gaza that seen more than 35,000 people killed and citing the use of starvation as a weapon of war.

The prosecutor tells me this is no witch hunt, nor is it political. It is carrying out the ICC mandate to apply justice equally, without fear nor

favor. Israelis from across the political spectrum have denounced this decision. Netanyahu calling it an outrage that won't deter Israel from

continuing its war.

Meantime, Hamas also rejected the charges against its leadership. We will get more on this global and U.S. reaction later in the program.

But first, my exclusive interview with the ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, where he laid out why he's seeking these arrest warrants after seven and a

half months of war and how his office came to this decision now.


AMANPOUR: Prosecutor Karim Khan, welcome to the program.

KHAN: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: And of course, we're here at the ICC. You are today announcing that you are applying for arrest warrants for top military and political

leadership in the Israel Gaza war since the October 7th events. First and foremost, explain to me exactly what you're asking for and who you are


KHAN: Today, Christiane, we've applied for warrants to the pretrial chamber of the International Criminal Court in relation to three individuals that

are Hamas members. Sinwar, who's in charge on the ground.

AMANPOUR: That's Yahya Sinwar.

KHAN: Absolutely. Deif who's in charge of the Al Qassam Brigade. And Haniyeh. who's one of their political bureau based in Doha.

AMANPOUR: Let me just -- for everybody to understand, Yahya Sinwar is the head of what they call the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, the military

operation, or even wider. Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, otherwise known as Deif, commander in chief of the military wing's Al Qassam Brigade, and

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau. What are the charges?

KHAN: The charges are extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape, and sexual assault in detention. So, these are the key crimes that are alleged

to have been committed by these three individuals. The world was shocked on the 7th of October when people were ripped from their bedrooms, from their

homes, from the different kibbutzim in Israel and people have suffered enormously. And we have a variety of evidence to support the applications

that we've submitted to the judges.


AMANPOUR: And just tell us what the evidence is. Obviously, the world has seen the real-time images. The Israeli government has put out videos, which

is shared to the U.N. and others, journalists about what happened. There are body cams on many of the Hamas fighters, whoever was there at the time.

Is that the evidence or do you have more?

KHAN: We have more. We have authenticated videos and photographs. We have CCTV, camera pictures. We have I witness evidence. We have evidence of

survivors. I mean, it's remarkable. The victims and survivors that have -- from Israel that have engaged with my office have this righteous demand for

justice and accountability. They've come here. I've also met them in the different kibbutzim and they want justice and accountability. So, we have

also expert evidence.

So, there's a whole variety of information that we have authenticated that we think is relevant and probative and that is sufficient, we say, to

sustain the crimes that we've put forward to the judges.

AMANPOUR: You have also issued warrants against the top political and military leadership of the government of the State of Israel.

KHAN: We've applied for warrants. Of course, the judges must determine whether or not to issue them. But we've applied today. We'll apply for

warrants for Prime Minister Netanyahu and also Minister of Defense Gallant for the crimes of causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of

war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, deliberately targeting civilians in conflict.

And the sad thing really is, in relation to both categories, I have been saying repeatedly in Cairo in October last year at the Rafah Crossing, on

Israeli television, in Ramallah, everywhere I can to the parties to the conflict, comply now, don't complain later.

And of course, hostages have not been released. That insidious crime, it continues for so many innocent Israelis that are in custody. You know, I

held hostage by Hamas and families that are waiting for their return. And of course, we see pictures of starving children, of emaciated children. We

have a variety of evidence to support not polemics, but evidence that's been forensically analyzed to sustain the charge also of starvation being

used by Netanyahu and Gallant as a method of war, and it's awful that in 2024 we have had to submit these applications to the judges of the ICC for


AMANPOUR: I'm going to get into starvation as a weapon of war in a moment, but first, I want to ask you, the word genocide has been used by both

sides, and many believe that genocide is being committed, but you do not, you're not using that word.

KHAN: Well, this is an active investigation, and we have criminal charges that we can use, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. In

relation to this current stage of investigations, the charges that we have put forward to the judges do not include genocide. But we are continuing to


It's a very complex situation. We've not been allowed access into Gaza by the Israeli authorities. We're also continuing our investigations in

relation to the Hamas attacks and if and when the evidence points us in a particular direction, we will not hesitate to act. So, it's still an active

investigation, but yes, today we haven't.

AMANPOUR: What is extermination?

KHAN: It's mass killing.

AMANPOUR: Different than genocide?

KHAN: Yes. Genocide is defined by a specific intent. Not only killing, but an intention to destroy the group in whole or in part. So, it's a specific

intent to destroy the group in whole or in part. So, we're not -- we have not included in our application today a request for warrants for the crime

of genocide.

AMANPOUR: So, extermination, war crimes, crimes against humanity. I want to ask you about starvation because although it was accepted by the ICC as a

war crime when you were created in 1998, I don't believe it's ever been prosecuted before as a weapon of war.

KHAN: No, it's not that I'm aware of. I think, unfortunately this situation will be a first and it's very unusual. We see a population, large numbers

of children and women that have already endured more than 17 years of a very rigid regime of allowing goods into Gaza.

I think even in 2022, the United Nations and others said that 80 percent of the population, you know, lived on humanitarian supplies, and that's just

become even more pernicious since the 8th of October with all the other restrictions.


And you know, the words of the secretary general of the United Nations, of the head of the Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Martin

Griffiths, WHO, UNICEF, I mean, it seems everybody in the international firmament has spoken with grave concern -- extreme concern. But we haven't

seen food, water, medicines go to the most vulnerable, and they have those rights not because of something that I'm saying, it's because it's required

in the Geneva Conventions and it's required in the Rome Statute.

AMANPOUR: So, as of April 17th, according to humanitarian organizations and the authorities whatever exist on the ground in Gaza 28 children under 12

have died, including 12 babies about a month old because of malnutrition related conditions.

The defense minister, Yoav Gallant, who today you are issuing an arrest warrant or the request for an arrest warrant for -- set on October 9th, two

days after October 7th. We are imposing a complete siege. There will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are

fighting human animals and we will act accordingly. Prime Minister Netanyahu on October 13th said, we will exact a price that will be

remembered by them and Israel's other enemies for decades to come.

Are those -- is that the basis on which you establish intent or is that -- what -- is that part of your evidence?

KHAN: Much more than that. But yes, some of the words uttered by the two individuals, Minister of Defense Gallant and Prime Minister Netanyahu, are,

of course, probative and relevant. The fact that so many other individuals have said, you know, words like there's no such thing as an innocent

civilian in Gaza. They're all responsible.

The words by members of the Security Committee. I mean, there's a whole variety of words that are said and done by the government that have not

been disowned, that have not been denied, that have not -- that the two individuals have not disassociated themselves from, and I think that's

relevant. But it's -- again, it's, it's a very complex operation.

It's not just the denial of aid. It's not only the fact that as an occupying power, Israel has an affirmative obligation to make sure food and

the objects indispensable to survival get to the civilians. They have an affirmative obligation. They're in control of the north of Gaza, for

example. IDF tanks are in situ (ph). They could guard aid convoys going in and making sure it goes to the camps. They're not doing that.

But in addition, one has to look at a wider aspect. Water has been cut off. Electricity has been -- plants have been either destroyed or targeted. Fuel

can't go in. Desalination plants are completely dysfunctional. There's no desalination plant in the north of Gaza at all. Water purification tablets,

filtration systems have been classified as dual use objects, as have incubators, as has oxygen for hospital, as have anesthetics.

One sees 90 percent of all the greenhouses in the north of Gaza destroyed. 40 percent of the land that was used for agriculture has been destroyed

since the -- you know, the conflict started. 70 percent of the fishing vessels.

I mean, every avenue that is so important to human survival has been constrained or suffocated because of a policy and the words of the

secretary general of the United Nations, which said we're at breaking point, the words of UNICEF, the words of UNRWA saying that we've got a

trickle of aid in a sea of need, all of these you know, giants of the international system, their words, their concerns have been put to one

side, unfortunately, in the face of other imperatives and what seems to be a bid also for the collective punishment of the people of Gaza.

AMANPOUR: What is the international law on the restrictions that you're talking about? And, for instance, the checking of aid convoys. The Israeli

government says it is at war with a terror organization and has worked in coordination with the U.S., Egypt, and international aid agencies to get

aid in. Netanyahu himself on October 29th, after two weeks of nothing getting in, another week later said, we must prevent a humanitarian


What do you make of those words, and what is the law on stopping and checking aid convoys?

KHAN: See, we have to look at words and analyze them against what is taking place. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been on the record to say that the

access of humanitarian aid gives Israel important leeway that is being used. I've talked about a diplomatic Iron Dome as part of, you know,

allowing aid in and not allowing aid in and all the rest of it.


Israel has every right not to give succor to Hamas. That is not contested. Israel has every right and needed an obligation to get hostages back, but

you must do so by complying with the law. The fact that Hamas fighters need water doesn't justify denying water from all the civilian population of

Gaza. There's an obligation, as I said, it's an affirmative -- in addition to everything else, there's an affirmative obligation as an occupying power

that Israelis to make sure water, medicines, anesthetics, insulin goes to the people that need it.

If tanks can go in, why can't those tanks and those soldiers guard aid convoys? So, there's a lot of deficiencies that give rise not just to

recklessness or negligence or indifference, but seems to be part of a criminal common plan to deny these objects indispensable to the survival of

the civilian population.

And how many doctors have to talk about amputating the limbs of little babies or children without anesthetic, or how many people need to die

without insulin, or how many people with 50 percent burns can be left by the doctors in the different hospitals because they don't have antibiotic

creams for burns, and they can't save them without that for us to realize that the law is being breached?

Now, this is what we have analyzed, and we've presented it for judges who make the final decision if warrants should be issued or not.

AMANPOUR: And again, you say that you have requested these warrants based on a higher level of evidence than is normally required, not just that it

is a reasonable belief that it could lead to actual warrants and a charge, but you believe your evidence has what?

KHAN: Well, I when -- I came in as prosecutor, the standard for a warrant are reasonable grounds to believe. That's what the judges have to

determine. I -- across all our situations, when I became prosecutor, I required the leaders in the office, the heads of the teams, to certify that

there's a realistic prospect of conviction. It's not enough in these kinds of cases to have enough to issue a warrant. We must be able to bring it


AMANPOUR: On both sides?

KHAN: On both sides. And in relation to both, I've determined, and the team are unanimous, that we have a realistic prospect of conviction in relation

to the three warrants being sought regarding the Hamas leaders. And the two that are being sought in relation to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign

Minister Gallant. And of course, the judges will decide if you've got it right and our analysis is spot on or not.

AMANPOUR: I'm going to get to the actual how you affect these warrants, given the practicalities of the situation in a moment. But first, I want to

ask you about the so-called political nature that many people will claim.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has already said, ICC charges would be a scandal on a historic scale, an indelible stain on the idea of justice. Israel's

commitment to international law is unwavering. And Netanyahu has also said it would be an antisemitic hate crime.

Now, we haven't heard anything from Hamas about how they would react. What do you say to that? There must have been a huge amount of pressure on you

from all sides to do and not to do.

KHAN: Well, this court, Christiane, is the childhood of Nuremberg. It was built because of the awful pictures that haunt us today of the Shoah and

the gas chambers and then the Balkans and the list goes on.

And we have to look at the evidence. And the way I very simply try to do things is look at the evidence, look at the conduct, look at the victims

and airbrush out the nationality. And if a crime has been committed, we should move forward.

Nobody is above the law. No people by dint of birth or passport, religion, nationality, or the color of their skin have a get out of jail free card,

have a free pass to say, well, the law doesn't apply to us. This is a moment when we see in the shadow of Ukraine an increasing cacophony of

noise of double standards and selectivity.

And what we're trying to do is not go with a tide of emotion, but take our time, move as effectively as we can, but be guided by evidence. And every

human life, every baby that is killed, whether it's a baby that's cruelly abducted by Hamas and killed or a baby that's been bombed or killed or has

died in incubators because of no electricity or water or food in Gaza, for them, for their families and humanity it's a tragedy.

And this is why we have a court. It's about the equal application of the law. No people are better than another. No people anywhere are saints. And

so, we have to apply a yardstick of legality to conduct. We've done that. And this is why we've made the applications that the judges must determine.


AMANPOUR: I'm going to read you some heavy criticism that you've received from the United States. As we know, the United States is not a party to the

ICC, nor is Israel. Recently, when word came out that this may be happening at some point, U.S. senators and U.S. congresspeople, mostly Republicans,

wrote you a letter signed by Senator Tom Cotton, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and others.

This is the quote. "Target Israel and we will target you. If you move forward with the measures indicated in the report, we will move to end all

American support for the ICC, sanction your employees and associates, and bar you and your families from the United States. You have been warned."

Is that a threat?

KHAN: I think that's the plain meaning of it in English. But you know, there's hotheads everywhere, and there's people that are mature statesmen

and stateswomen and leaders. There are those that have fidelity to something greater than themselves, whether it's their constitutions, but

ultimately, it's the rule of law.

The good news is, I think, for the last two and a half years, we've had very positive engagement with the Biden administration in the United

States. We're working across a range of situations, whether it's in Ukraine or Darfur, and I've said to distinguish members on the Hill and to the

administration that Rome Statute values are quintessential American values. It's against bullying. It's against the untrammeled power against the most

vulnerable. It's the rights, the dignity of the individual is the protection of babies. I mean, these are fundamental American values that

should engender bipartisan support.

Now, of course, this situation, unfortunately lies on the San Andreas fault of international politics and strategic interests. And, of course, I've had

some elected leaders speak to me and very -- you know, be very blunt. This court is built for Africa and for thugs like Putin, was what one senior

leader told me. We don't view it like that.

This court is the legacy of Nuremberg. This court is a sad indictment of humanity. This court should be the triumph of law over power and brute

force. Grab what you can. Take what you want. Do what you will. And we're going to simply be -- we're not going to be dissuaded by threats or any

other activities because, in the end, we have to fulfill our responsibilities as prosecutors, as the men and women of the office, as

judges, as the registry, to something bigger than ourselves, which is the fidelity to justice. And we're not going to be swayed by the different

types of threats, some of which are public and some maybe are not.

AMANPOUR: You mentioned without names that there are many who have been indicted who are not in democratic states, who are essentially despots.

Israel is a democracy. They have a judiciary, they have law enforcement, they have elected leaders. Why do you need to do this when they have a

system that could do this?

KHAN: I'd much rather Israel does it. I mean, Israel, you're right, it has a very good Supreme Court. It has a very qualified, brilliant lawyers. But

even if you read recently public information, for example, in "The New York Times," I think the Bergman and Mazzetti report, if one goes back to the

80s and look at the cop report, a deputy attorney general of Israel who said that Israel was unwilling and unable to investigate crimes in the

occupied territories. If one looks at the Sasson report, if one looks at general U.S. three-star general that was in Washington, D.C. between 2019

and 2021, who said there's no accountability, the simple truth is that for all the application of the law in the territory of Israel, unfortunately,

it doesn't appear to be applied with vigor or sincerity in the occupied territories or in Gaza. And this is why we have to move forward.

Of course, if Israel disagrees, if they think they are investigating the same individuals and the same conduct and the policies that underpin them,

they are free notwithstanding their objections to jurisdiction to raise a challenge before the judges of the court. And that's what I would advise

them to do.

But the simple truth of the matter is the disregard of the law, in this situation, and the policies and the utterances that are coming from the

prime minister, the minister of defense, support and corroborate the other evidence we have from a variety of sources.


AMANPOUR: I just wanted to fill in for our viewers. You mentioned in big "New York Times Magazine" report this weekend by Ronan Bergman and Mark

Mazzetti an eight-year effort. It was titled "Unpunished." And as you say, it is about the failure of the Israeli system, police, legal, and military

to punish settlers on the occupied West Bank as they punish Arab- Palestinians on the West Bank.

Now, you talk about the State of Palestine, and therefore, you have jurisdiction over things that happen in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

There are those who disagree with you. Clearly, Israel disagrees, the United States disagrees. They point out that, as yet, there is no official

State of Palestine recognized by the Security Council. What is your jurisdiction there?

KHAN: Well, it's a jurisdiction that's detailed in the statute and that has been decided by majority by the Pre-Trial Chamber. Leaving aside to the

fact -- for the moment the fact that 141 countries have recognized Palestine as a state.

AMANPOUR: In the General Assembly?

KHAN: In the General Assembly. 124 states that make up the assembly of state parties agreed for Palestine to be accepted as a state party to the

Rome Statute. And so, by dent of that, clearly, we have jurisdiction.

The Geneva Conventions also make it clear that it applies to high contracting parties. Israel is a high contracting party, as is Palestine.

AMANPOUR: What does that mean?

KHAN: It means that they have both committed to comply with the provisions of the Geneva Conventions that includes the prohibition on starvation as a

method of war, that includes the prohibition on taking hostages or willfully killing or extermination. I mean, these come from the Rome

Statute. But originally, they found form in the Geneva Conventions.

So, we apply the law. There's been judicial pronouncements by the by the ICC, and we have to be guided by those.

AMANPOUR: The Hamas leaders who you have sought arrest warrants for, do you have any hope that anybody will move against them? Do you have any hope of

ever getting to them? Again, the ICC does not have a police force. You cannot go and apprehend.

As far as we know, at least two of them are underground, potentially in tunnels in Gaza. And Ismail Haniyeh appears to be the leader involved in

the political negotiations indirect between Israel and Hamas, with the U.S., Qatar, other nations mediating.

How do you expect to go after them? Who do you think's going to hand them over?

KHAN: Well, the first thing is for judges to rule on the applications. Until the judges rule on the application, all it is is an application that

doesn't have legal effect. But then states have certain responsibilities and individuals have choices.

If individuals say that what they're what's alleged is not made out, it's bunkum, it is nonsense, put your case before the independent judges of the

court. This court has -- had acquittals. This court has not confirmed cases. The record shows that it's a forensic laboratory in which the

evidence determines whether or not people are convicted, cases are confirmed or cases are kicked out. That applies to Hamas leaders if they


And if not, we have to see what are the other opportunities if they're either in Palestine, which is a state party, or if they're in Qatar, which

is a non-state party. But in a way that's getting ahead of ourselves. Today, the announcement is the application and the judges have to be given

the time to independently and dispassionately assess what we've given. Nothing is a given. They have to assess it and make a determination whether

or not to issue warrants.

But I also wanted to underline the fact that, you mentioned in an earlier question, the allegations of antisemitism, the hate, the idea that by

applying the law blindly we are favoring one side or persecuting or being hostile to another side, and nothing can be further from the truth.

We have so many people of distinction that are respected. And they independently came in. I brought them in. They sat in the evidence review.

This is not a witch hunt. This is not some kind of emotional reaction to noise. We've been criticized for going too slowly, criticized for going too

fast. It's a forensic process that is expected of us as international prosecutors, as an independent court to build evidence that is solid, that

will not dissolve in the courtroom, and that's what we've done.

Today is the fulfillment of that first stage, this first round of applications in which we say we have done our job. We now give it to the

judges to scrutinize. So, it's not against any people, and it's not against for any interest. It's simply because if we don't apply the law equally,

we're going to disintegrate as a species.


Of course, what's happening in the West Bank is extremely worrying. It's an issue also that we are investigating. But there's a certain -- in

democracies, political choices tend to be determinative. And all I can say is that Israel, the leaders, the country has a choice, that they can engage

and do what is necessary to meet complementarity in the United Kingdom.

In the Iraq investigations before I was appointed prosecutor, it was found that there were deficiencies in the legal system for military justice. But

we have really sincerely looked at things with a broad horizon, looking at incriminating and exonerating evidence equally, looking at evidence,

authenticating the evidence, and realizing that we're not worth the job, the title as being a prosecutor being lawyers, or having an international

criminal court if we are dissuaded because of extraneous interests from moving forward.

Because at the end of the day, I go back to this basic premise, a child in Myanmar that's persecuted, or a child in Israel that is an orphan or that

has been taken and killed, or one in Ukraine, for their family, there's no difference. Their universe has been torn to shreds. And this is the need

for the court and independent judges to scrutinize, not look at the politics, not look at a dysfunctional security council, not look at the

difficulties it may cause regional organizations or different groupings, but simply say, is the evidence reliable?

And if so, we go back to King John, that the king is under no man but God on the law. We all must be subject to that. Otherwise, what is this

international rules-based system? What is the principles of public international law that so many men and women have given their lives for

since the Second World War particularly?

And I think it's a dishonor for them. It's a dishonor for the victims of the gas chambers if we airbrush out inconvenient truths. And we have to try

our best to achieve justice for the victims of the 7th of October. We also must try our best to do justice for so many innocent people that are

suffering as we speak in Israel and also in Gaza, as well as in other parts of Palestine.

AMANPOUR: Prosecutor Karim Khan, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

KHAN: Thank you so much.


AMANPOUR: Now, as we addressed and perhaps predictably, there has been a furious response, not just from within Israel, but from many of Israel's

allies, including the State Department, the White House in the United States. President Joe Biden has released a statement on this, in which he

says, "The ICC prosecutor's application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous. And let me be clear, whatever this prosecutor might

imply, there is no equivalence, none, between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security."

Let us get reaction now to the requesting of these warrants at this time, and I'm joined by the human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Nice. Now, he served as

the lead prosecutor at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague. He was the former Yugoslav leader who presided over ethnic cleansing and genocide

in Bosnia in the '90s, and also for war crimes in Kosovo.

Geoffrey Nice, welcome to the program. I want to first get your reaction to what Karim Khan has announced to the world today, and that is the request

for these arrest warrants. You know him. He's been in your chambers. What is your reaction?

GEOFFREY NICE, LEAD PROSECUTOR AT THE TRIAL OF SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC: I think it's good news, not because of any particular individual named in the

warrants that he requests, but because it shows that the only existing international legal order for accountability for war crimes is not

frightened to investigate a country that has very powerful supporters and is prepared to approach the problem, as he says, and there's no reason to

doubt it, dispassionately and objectively.

The alternative, for example, would have been that for political reasons, he would have avoided his duty. And even if that had been seen in the

short-term as in some way favorable by some countries, the long-term consequences of that would be disastrous because it could be thought and

argued that if the International Criminal Court, which has come -- taken some time to reach its present, more satisfactory state than it had earlier

on, if it's unable to deal with either the Russia-Ukraine case or the Israel-Gaza case, then it's a worthless and useless instrument and need not

exist at all.


And I think that what's happened today, given in mind all the cautious steps that have to be followed before anything next happens, I think it's a

welcome step.

AMANPOUR: Many people are going to ask, as I did to the prosecutor, what is the evidence? Will it stick? What about the chain of command? All of those

things that have to be proved in a court of law.

NICE: First of all, of course, we haven't seen all the evidence, and he's described it, but only in a summary way. So, I can't express a view on what

the evidence may show. However, I think with two points, I think if you consider the chain of command point, lawyers who like things to be

complicated and take a long time might these days often say, oh, you can't prove the chain of command.

Well, can you not? If something is done in the name of either a terrorist organization or in the name of a well-organized state, you are entitled to

make certain inferences about a chain of command in the absence of either the terrorist organization or the state disavowing the action that

happened. That hasn't happened in these cases.

And there's been long enough for them to disavow, there's been long enough for them to say that happened by mistake. It's been said once or twice, but

not often. So, the chain of command may not be something for which you need, an absolute picture of every step in the chain. It may be something

that's quite easily established in certain circumstances by a range of evidence.

So, as far as the crimes on the ground are concerned, you've got not just the evidence that Mr. Khan summarized, but you've also got just the imagery

we've all seen of the massive destruction of civilian buildings and the circumstances into which people have been put.

Now, I'm not going to draw any particular inferences from that or from anything else. And I'm certainly not going to express an opinion about the

validity or -- not the validity, about whether these applications are rightly made. But the evidence, it comes in all sorts of forms these days,

especially with media everywhere and able to keep media in Gaza. And I -- it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that an intelligent man will find

the evidence is sufficient, man or woman.

AMANPOUR: And the dreadful evidence, that has been shown obviously from October 7th with the Hamas attacks in Israel. And to that point, what I

want to ask you is the backlash. Right now, there are furious reactions from the president of the United States, the secretary of state, obviously

from within Israel itself, across the political spectrum there, saying, first and foremost, how could the prosecutor essentially draw an

equivalence? They might have even said a moral equivalence between a democratic state, Israel, and a terrorist organization, Hamas.

What is your reaction? How should people think about, you know, these -- requests for these arrest warrants in the same document?

NICE: I don't think he is making a point about moral equivalence. Not at all. He's simply saying there is a single set of laws of war and that he's

had to look at it and he's looked at it from both sides and he happens to have found enough evidence in his judgment to put these requests before the

court. So, I don't think moral equivalence comes into it.

I think it's -- frankly, I think it's very unwise of powerful states, like the United States, and President Biden in particular, to weigh in now

against the court. It's long been the case that if the United States really wanted to help the interests of international justice, it should have

perhaps considered joining the court, and not saying the various things have been said, not least in the regime, I think, of the previous president

about what would happen to people from the ICC if they went to investigate in the United States of America.

It'd be far better if he joined up and led the way for the other big countries that have not joined up. But by coming out now and suggesting

that the only mechanism for independent analysis of the commission of crimes by parties in a conflict is acting badly is not helpful.


And he should bear in mind, like it or not, that there is a great deal of sympathy around the world for both sides. And the sympathy reflects belief,

justified or not, wait and see until the results come in, but there's a great deal of sympathy for the idea that crimes are being committed by both

sides, and he's not in a position to go and say that. And I think it's unhelpful for him to have said the things he did.

It's worth remembering that when the ICC was created, the British foreign secretary at the time, Robin Cook, infamously said that this court is not

set up to try prime ministers and presidents. It was felt at the time that he was completely out of line to say that, but it's almost as if that

approach has continued subliminally or otherwise, so that leaders of countries should not be put on trial, that countries themselves should not

be investigated as, for example, Israel has been investigated the International Court of Justice.

And I think that it would do President Biden -- Sorry. I'm sorry. Yes. Go on.

AMANPOUR: Sorry. I need to ask you a question because this is another important question. Those who have spoken out against this and on Israel's

behalf have said it is a kind of a miscarriage of intent by the ICC or of operation by the ICC because Israel has its own independent court and

system. It's a democracy. I put that to Prosecutor Karim Khan, and nonetheless, it's being said that the ICC did not get enough traction or

spend enough time with the Israelis to have them be able to do it.

But we are -- we talked about that in the interview. He said he had tried and he had got no definitive or, you know, important help or action and

answers from them. And he had warned them in public before. And he said, essentially, he stands by what he told me in this interview that the office

has sought to and will continue to seek to engage with Israel and all states.

The prosecutor has undertaken three years of such engagement, obviously predating October 7th on other issues to improve dialogue and seek

investigate -- information. Despite significant efforts, the office has not received any information that has demonstrated genuine action at the

domestic level to address the crimes alleged or the individuals under investigation.

And again, the prosecutor continues to say if Israel does decide to take this on itself, then that would be for Israel to do. So, again, the U.S.

has complained about this, others have complained about this. It is the first time a democracy, a democratic leader has been targeted. We know that

Hamas has. It is viewed as non-state actors and terrorist organizations.

But in this case, what would you say to the criticism that Israel wasn't left to do it itself?

NICE: I thought that Mr. Khan gave a very good account of the decision he's made. And, of course, it will be up for the judges in due course to decide

whether he's right to have brought the matter in light of the history that Israel may, as he has himself explained, argue is sufficient.

I think without expressing a view, it might be easy to think that many people would find it hard to believe that the Israel legal system would

fairly put on trial the many allegations made against it, for its treatment of and support by those who act in its name or under its control of people

in Gaza and in the West Bank.

And it has to be remembered that this series of events since October are part of a much longer conflict that has had recurring events, Operation

Protective Edge, Operation Car Sled, going right the way back to the beginning of the State of Israel. And that it's very hard to believe that

the State of Israel itself, through its legal system, would be able, dispassionately and objectively, to look at the issues that many people

think arise, that frame the overall conflict of which the 7th, 8th of October are one truly dreadful, unimaginably dreadful part in which so many

people think are represented by another part in what's been done by Israel to Gaza in the last several months,

AMANPOUR: Geoffrey Nice, "The New York Times" had a huge magazine investigation on precisely this issue this weekend, titled "Unpunished," as

we discussed in the interview. But what I want to ask you is finally the criticism from both the United States, from Britain, the prime minister,

who said that inter alia, this is not helpful, it will advance the cause of peace, it will stand in the way of the attempts to get a ceasefire and all

the other things, the diplomacy.


You know that this was the same criticism, because I also was there and I reported on it, when Milosevic was indicted during the Kosovo War, which he

backed, obviously, on behalf of the Serbian forces there. Can you speak to that?

NICE: It was shown to be incorrect in the case of Milosevic, and I think it will be shown to be incorrect in this case. In each case, there is a long

history. This one, as I have suggested, going back certainly to the creation of the State of Israel, quite possibly back to the beginning of

the 20th century. The Balkan Wars, depending on how you view them, going back to the Second World War, possibly to the creation of the Former

Yugoslavia at the end of the First World War.

And in each case, remember, the International Community's principal powerful actors have been involved and have been involved unsuccessfully in

stopping the conflicts developing. These conflicts, these tragedies are not the result of the individuals who are suffering. They are a consequence of

bad politicians on either sides of the conflicts or the many sides of the conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia.

There are also a consequence of the powerful international actors not stopping them happening. And therefore, we should be cautious before paying

too much attention to what, after all, the two sequential patrons of the State of Israel, who may bear a great deal of responsibility over all

what's happened, Great Britain and the United States. We should be cautious about what they may say is wrong in bringing an objective independent view

to events that have happened on both sides since October.

AMANPOUR: Geoffrey Nice, former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, thank you for joining us.

And we have reached out to current Israeli officials and indeed Hamas for their response to today's news. The Israelis declined to appear. Hamas did

not respond. But here's what Prime Minister Netanyahu has said earlier in a statement that he recorded.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The absurd and false order of the prosecutor in The Hague is not only directed against

the prime minister of Israel and the minister of defense, it is directed against the entire State of Israel. It is directed against the IDF soldiers

who are fighting with supreme heroism against the vile Hamas murderers who attacked us with terrible cruelty on October 7th.

Prosecutor in The Hague, with what audacity do you dare compare the monsters of Hamas to the soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the



AMANPOUR: And we are now going to go to the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, to get his reaction. Michael Oren, thank

you for being with us to talk about these ICC moves. I know you've listened to the prosecutor interview. You've just listened to Geoffrey Nice and to

your prime minister. Can I just ask you? Do you -- just what is your reaction?

MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Good to be with you, Christiane. I'm going to quote both Prime Minister Netanyahu and the

president of the United States, President Biden, saying this is outrageous. And it's actually beyond outrageous, it's criminally outrageous.

It's not just equating Israel and Israeli soldiers with Hamas, the barbarous massacres of October 7th with the measures that Israel -- against

an enemy, which is actually using the civilian populations as human shields and using Gaza itself as a shield. Underneath Gaza, 400 miles of tunnels.

So, Israel is fighting a double battle above ground and below ground. That's the least of it.

I look at this decision and I see an immense danger to the entire West. I don't know how any country, any democracy will be able to defend itself in

the future. You know, there -- in Gaza is a tragedy. And I want to go on saying that very, very strongly, I'm not a spokesman for the government,

but I deeply believe this. But if you look at all this -- the number of Palestinians killed by Palestinian rockets falling short, the number of

Palestinians who simply die of natural causes over the course of seven months and the 15,000 Palestinian terrorists that the IDF has killed, you

have a ratio of about one combatant to every civilian death in Gaza. That is a fraction of what was when the United States fought in Iraq and

Afghanistan and Syria.

How is the United States going to be able to defend itself in the future if this is the consequences? Is the ICC going to issue and rest warrant for

the president of the United States or the secretary of state, for the secretary of defense?

I see this as a real watershed, and not in a very positive way, for the West's ability to defend itself.


AMANPOUR: Michael Oren, as we know, the United States is not party to it, and partly because it does not want ever to be brought before an

international tribunal for the actions of its forces. As you just mentioned, the incredible death toll in both Iraq and in Afghanistan.

But what I want to ask you and what I want to ask you is whether you think and you regret some of the public statements which are part of what's being

cited by Israeli officials, notably by Yoav Gallant in the immediate aftermath of the horror of October 7th, about the complete siege, about,

you know, dealing with human animals, just listing what they would not allow in, you know, life sustaining goods, water, food, energy, et cetera.

And nothing went in for two weeks.

And there is -- the idea that starvation -- the citing by the ICC that starvation is being used as a weapon of war. Do you regret those statements

that your own senior government leaders made?

OREN: I think it's very easy now, seven and a half months after the events of October 7th, to regret the statements. Yes, certainly. But this was the

greatest single massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust. The trauma is over 250 Israelis dragged into satanic captivity in Gaza. And we've

never experienced anything like this.

So, I think I kind of understand the type of visceral reaction which Israeli leaders had at the time. We can regret it today. You may recall,

I'll recall some of the statements made by Americans in the aftermath of 9/11. I'm a historian by, by profession. I recall some of the statements

made by Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Today, maybe afterwards, we can regret it. But yes, it'd be better if they hadn't been

said. But I can understand it at the time.

AMANPOUR: And as you know, you mentioned the United States. You remember that even in the immediate aftermath of October 7th, when the president of

the United States made that incredible demonstration of U.S. solidarity by going over to Israel, embracing the prime minister, speaking to wounded

families, he also urged prime minister not to make American mistakes, the same that you cite after -- you know, over Iraq, et cetera, not to be led

by, you know, the emotions and the anger and the vengefulness of after such a massive attack.

So, even the United States has been saying to your government, please abide by the laws and rules of war. So, they may criticize now, but they've been

saying it as well. And do you think -- I mean, that's one question. And the other question is, why do you think the Israeli jurisdiction has not come

forth with doing this itself, as the prosecutor has suggested it should have done?

OREN: Well, I don't think -- first of all, to answer your second question first, I think that there haven't been charges leveled on a massive scale

the way the court has done. There have been soldiers court martialed for illicit or illegal behavior both in the West Bank and in Gaza. It happens.

And our court system is a world respected court system.

And this is the first time that any international body has come along, to my mind, and really called into question and impugned the authority of the

world court. As for America's criticism of Israel, we've heard it. We've heard it from early on in the war. We've taken issue with it. I've taken

issue with it. I strongly believe that Israel -- the Israeli army is in fact the most moral army in the world and has taken extraordinary steps to

limit civilian casualties.

And I think the scouting figures bear that out. As I said before, it's close to one to one, for every combatant, for every civilian death, as

regrettable as that is, that is a record which is unmatched by any other army in modern warfare. And no other army has had a fight in an area where

the civilian population cannot really run away very fast and had -- low ground against 400 miles of tunnels. That is -- there's actually no

precedent for this in international -- in the world history. And I'm just going to reiterate what I said earlier. This is a watershed.

You know, the United States passed a law. I don't know if you know this, Christiane, back in 2002, there's a law called the American Service-

Member's Defense Act, where American Congress people anticipated precisely such an act by the ICC and said that the United States would not -- would

defend its soldiers against claims made by the ICC and that defense extended to Israel's -- to America's allies. We are America's allies.

I believe and trust that Israel and the United States will stand strong together against this outrageous ruling.


AMANPOUR: I think we have 15 seconds. Prime minister says it will not deter from continuing the war against Hamas. There are many questions, even

amongst your own officials now, about the fact that it doesn't seem to be going as well as they hoped and that they are calling on the prime minister

for a proper post-war plan.

In 15 seconds, what do you think is going to happen next?

OREN: Well, I personally think there should be a post-war plan. I agree with that. But I also don't think that the ICC really will affect Israel's

operations on the ground. -- survival. It is not about Netanyahu. It is not about Gallant. It is about the people of Israel. And we will continue to

take every measure possible to defend our people and defend our state.

AMANPOUR: Michael Oren, former ambassador, thank you so much.

And that is it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from The Hague.