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Harris reaffirms US opposition to ICC probe of Israel in call to Netanyahu

US vice president also 'emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security'
The call was the first between Harris and Netanyahu since she became US vice president in January (AFP)

US Vice President Kamala Harris, in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, reaffirmed US opposition to an International Criminal Court (ICC) probe of possible war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the White House said.

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The call, the first between the two since Harris and US President Joe Biden took office in January, came a day after the ICC prosecutor said she would launch the probe, prompting swift rejections by the US and Israel.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who will be replaced by British prosecutor Karim Khan on 16 June, said in December 2019 that war crimes had been, or were being, committed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 

She named both the Israeli army and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas as possible perpetrators.

Harris and Netanyahu noted their governments’ "opposition to the International Criminal Court’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel," the White House said.

'Unwavering commitment to Israel's security'

During the call, Harris and Netanyahu also agreed to continue to cooperate on regional security issues, specifically Iran’s nuclear programme and "dangerous" behaviour, the White House statement said.

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Harris "emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security," the statement added.

Biden's bid to revive a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers sets him and Netanyahu on a potential collision course. 

The Israeli prime minister opposed the nuclear deal and applauded former US President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon it in 2018.

Harris also congratulated Netanyahu on Israel’s coronavirus vaccine programme and they agreed to increase cooperation on the coronavirus, water, green energy and other initiatives, the White House said.