Former Israeli PM Naftali Bennett Calls for ICC to Be ‘Dismantled and Defunded’

Head of Israel's right-wing Yamina party Naftali Bennett addresses lawmakers during a

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who held office from June 2021 to June 2022, said on Wednesday that the International Criminal Court (ICC) should be “dismantled and defunded” after its “shameful” bid to arrest current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for war crimes.

“It’s a shameful moment for the ICC. It’s a total joke because they’re taking the leader of a democracy that’s fighting against a terror group … We fully reject this,” Bennett told Fox News Digital on Wednesday.

WATCH — Netanyahu: I’m Glad to See Push to Sanction ICC for Encouraging Use of Human Shields:

Bennett said the ICC had allowed itself to become a “political tool” for Israel’s enemies.

“It’s a farce. It’s not about the evidence. It’s not about facts. It’s about politics, and it’s no secret that these international organs are being used by Israel’s enemies time and again to try and tie our hands while we’re fighting against the worst jihad terrorists in the world,” he said.

“We’re being accused of trying to starve the Gazans, but when you look at the evidence, we’ve let in 24,000 trucks, 400,000 tons of food and aid. That’s 30% more than before Oct. 7,” he noted.

“We’ve been bending over backwards to reduce civilian casualties while Hamas is doing everything it can to increase civilian casualties, yet Israel is being accused. We fully reject this. We need to continue and defeat Hamas. That’s the best response to all of this,” he said.

Bennett made similar points on Monday, the day after ICC prosecutor Karim Khan requested arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Gallant, and three Hamas leaders.

WATCH — Chris Van Hollen and Antony Blinken Revert to Failed John Kerry Mideast Policy, “Palestinians First”:

“The prosecutor’s request is a moment of shame for the ICC and the world community. It also provides a huge boost to global Jihadi terror,” he said on social media platform Twitter.

“An ICC that compares the executor of a deliberate murderous attack that included raping women and burning babies, with those who are defending themselves against it, is better off not existing. It’s time for the decent nations to defund the ICC,” Bennett said on Monday.

Bennett has been a staunch defender of the Israeli operation in Gaza since the beginning. In February, he said Israel has “absolutely no choice here but to win.”

“I won’t be reprimanded for defending my children, for defending my nation. I fought in wars. We hate war. Israelis do not like war. We didn’t start this war,” he said during a contentious interview with talk show host Piers Morgan.

When Morgan asked how the Israelis will know that Hamas is beaten, Bennett replied: “When they come out and surrender with white flags, or we’ve killed them.”

“If any country in the world would be willing to live next to a Hamas-stan that explicitly says right now that they’re going to conduct more October 7 massacres again and again and again if we don’t eradicate them, then tell me who that is,” he asked.

Bennett’s administration in 2021-2022 made significant efforts to improve relations with the Palestinians, including pledges of more humanitarian aid and infrastructure investments in exchange for security guarantees. This was coupled with forceful responses to Hamas provocations, although Bennett and his advisers were leery of escalating to the kind of military campaign Netanyahu is prosecuting today, in part because he wanted to focus on the growing nuclear threat from Iran.

WATCH — Perry to Blinken: Why Conditions on Israel but Not Ukraine?:


Netanyahu, who was prime minister before Bennett and returned to the office afterward, used a similar “mowing the grass” strategy to curb Hamas’ strength while showing Gaza that a more cooperative approach would be rewarded. Both of them seem to have sworn off that approach in the wake of the October 7 atrocities.

Shortly after the Hamas attacks, Bennett said he bears some responsibility for horrors unleashed by the terrorist gang.

“I served as prime minister for 12 months. There were things that I can’t elaborate on, that I didn’t have time to do that could have dramatically changed the situation, and then the government fell,” he said, although he also chided Netanyahu for allowing Hamas to receive funding from Qatar in a bid to placate terrorist leaders.

The Israeli opposition was also generally outraged by ICC prosecutor Karim Khan seeking to arrest Netanyahu as a war criminal. Support for the current Israeli prime minister quickly solidified this week, with even the most outspoken opposition papers blasting Khan for his “intolerable gall.”

Ironically, Khan might have done Netanyahu an enormous political favor, as he was enduring a good deal of domestic criticism last week, in addition to international pressure for a ceasefire. Some of that criticism came from Gallant, who was angry with the PM for not developing a solid plan to govern Gaza after the defeat of Hamas.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.