George Clooney fretted to White House that wife Amal could face sanctions over ICC case

In World


Hollywood superstar George Clooney rang up the White House last month to grumble about President Biden’s criticism of the International Criminal Court’s effort to issue arrest warrants against top Israeli officials, according to a report. 

The Academy Award-winning actor’s wife, Amal Clooney, played an instrumental role in making the case for the ICC to prosecute Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Hamas leaders for alleged war crimes in Israel and Gaza — and she could face US sanctions if Biden, 81, were to sign legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives. 

George Clooney is expected to headline a Biden campaign fundraiser later this month. Getty Images for MGM’s Seattle Community

During the call, George Clooney expressed concern to Counselor to the President Steve Ricchetti that his wife could face penalties under the sanctions bill and took issue with Biden’s comments related to the arrest warrants and his administration’s initial openness to slapping sanctions on ICC officials, according to the Washington Post.  

The “Ocean’s Eleven” star was particularly peeved with Biden’s characterization of his wife’s work as “outrageous,” the outlet noted.  

“The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous,” the president said in a May 20 statement.

“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.” 

That same day, Amal Clooney announced on the Clooney Foundation for Justice website – an organization co-founded by her and her husband – that she was among the experts asked by the ICC to evaluate evidence of suspected war crimes in the Israel-Hamas war. 

“We unanimously conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity including starvation as a method of warfare, murder, persecution and extermination,” the 46-year-old human rights lawyer wrote

She added that the panel also determined “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including hostage-taking, murder and crimes of sexual violence.”

Amal Clooney was on the panel that determined it was reasonable to conclude that Netanyahu committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza. AFP via Getty Images

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan announced last month that his office would pursue arrest warrants for Netanyahu, 74, and Gallant, 65, as well as the Hamas leaders. 

Neither the US nor Israel are members of the ICC. 

On Tuesday, the House passed the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act – backed by 42 Democrats and all but two Republicans – which would force Biden to deny entry into the US, revoke visas and impose financial sanctions on members of the ICC involved in the effort to issue the arrest warrants. 

It’s unclear if the Senate will take up the legislation, which the White House announced Monday that it “strongly opposes.”

“This legislation could require sanctions against court staff, judges, witnesses, and US allies and partners who provide even limited, targeted support to the court in a range of aspects of its work,” the Biden administration argued.

“There are more effective ways to defend Israel,” the statement of administration policy said. 

Biden called the prospect of arrest warrants against Israeli officials “outrageous.” SHAWN THEW/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

It is unclear if the statement was influenced at all by Clooney’s call. 

The White House and the Clooney Foundation for Justice did not respond to The Post’s request for comment. 

George Clooney is slated to headline a June 15 Hollywood fundraiser for the Biden campaign. 

The Tinseltown event is also expected to feature actress Julia Roberts, former President Barack Obama and late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel. 

In 2020, Clooney donated more than $500,000 in support of Biden’s White House bid. 



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