Michael Gove Slams 'Nonsensical' Bid To Arrest Benjamin Netanyahu For War Crimes

The minister described Israel as an "imperfect" state which is trying to protect its population.
Michael Gove lashed out at the International Criminal Court's bid to arrest Netanyahu.
Michael Gove lashed out at the International Criminal Court's bid to arrest Netanyahu.
Jordan Pettitt - PA Images via Getty Images

Michael Gove slammed the International Criminal Court’s bid to arrest Benjamin Netanyahu, describing it as “nonsensical”.

The ICC announced on Monday that it was seeking an arrest warrant against the Israeli prime minister and his defence minister Yoav Gallant – along with three Hamas leaders – for war crimes over the conflict in Gaza.

If the warrant is approved, it means the ICC will be looking to charge the Israelis for using starvation as a weapon.

But, speaking to Times Radio on Tuesday, the UK’s housing, communities and levelling up secretary stood by the Israeli prime minister.

Gove said: “The one thing that seems to me to be absolutely clear is that of course you can criticise Israel, and there are plenty of grounds for doing so.

“You cannot equate Israel with Hamas.

“Hamas is a terrorist organisation, bent on slaughter.

“Israel is a state like all states, an imperfect one, but trying to defend its people, so equating the two is just nonsensical.”

Times Radio presenter Stig Abell replied: “But Israel, in trying to [protect its people], might be committing war crimes?”

Gove replied: “There is this drive isn’t there, to put Israel in the dock and hold Israel to standards we don’t hold other countries to.

“Yes, it is entirely possible in a war that a state will make mistakes and individuals acting on behalf of that state will do things that are wrong.

“That has happened in wars that we as a country –”

“We call that war crimes,” Abell interjected.

The minister said: “Yeah, but there’s a particular narrative that some are seeking to run at the moment which is intended to hold Israel to higher standards than anyone else – double standards – and de-legitimise Israel for a host of reasons.”

Gove continued: “Yes there are grounds to criticise Israel; yes, there are grounds to criticise Netanyahu for some of the mistakes he has made.

“But where are the ICC in dealing with what happened in Syria? What’s happening in Myanmar? What’s happening in Sudan? What’s happening in Mali? What’s happening in Ethiopia?

“There are conflicts going on there.”

He also claimed that the “person who has killed more Muslims” than anyone else alive is the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

“When the ICC go after him with the same energy they’re going after Israel, then I’ll feel reassured,” the minister said.

Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride also described the arrest warrant bid as “unhelpful” in an interview with Sky News this morning.

He acknowledged that the UK is a signatory to the ICC, but does not recognise the state of Palestine – even though the ICC does – meaning there are “jurisdictional issues”.

He said the focus should be looking at addressing the growing levels of starvation in Gaza by pushing for more humanitarian aid to get into the Palestinian region.


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