Is the ICC right to go after Netanyahu?

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In the headlines

The government has announced that victims of the infected blood scandal who may not live to see the full compensation scheme rolled out will be given interim payments of £210,000 each. Rishi Sunak said it was a “day of shame for the British state” when the public inquiry released its findings yesterday; cabinet minister Mel Stride has said politicians and civil servants could face prosecution for their role in the cover-up. Joe Biden has condemned the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor for seeking an arrest warrant for Benjamin Netanyahu, saying it falsely implies equivalence between Israel and Hamas. In his own rejection of the motion, Netanyahu accused the ICC’s Karim Khan of anti-Semitism. The world’s most expensive feather has sold at auction. The pricey plume (pictured), from the extinct New Zealand huia bird, went for $28,000, making it 40 times more expensive per gram than gold.

Webb’s

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Yahya Sinwar and Benjamin Netanyahu. Getty

Is the ICC right to go after Netanyahu?

The International Criminal Court’s suggestion of moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas is “grotesque”, says The Wall Street Journal. Israel is waging a war to reclaim hostages and root out terrorists hiding among civilians; Hamas started the war with mass murder, rape and kidnapping, and vows to do it “again and again”. And the charges against Israel are bunk. The ICC alleges “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare”, but the Israeli government has facilitated the entry of more than half a million tons of aid – an “unprecedented effort to supply an enemy’s civilians” – and “begged Egypt” to open its border with Gaza to let aid in and starving people out. The ICC also claims Israel has targeted civilians, “another allegation that’s upside-down”. John Spencer, chair of urban warfare at West Point military academy, says the IDF has “done more to prevent civilian casualties in war than any military in history”.

Whatever you think of it, says Gideon Rachman in the FT, there’s no denying this is a “huge setback for Israel”. Netanyahu is already under intense domestic pressure – Benny Gantz, a leading member of his war cabinet, says he will quit unless the PM comes up with a clear strategy for the war and its aftermath. And the ICC announcement will leave many Israelis dismayed that their country is “turning into a pariah state”, making it all the more attractive to replace Netanyahu. Optimists will hope all this will convince the Israeli government that its Gaza strategy is “taking Israel into a wall”, as Gantz has put it. That might persuade future leaders to take the idea of a two-state solution more seriously. Israelis now know that the path back to international acceptance must involve a new peace process – “and the marginalisation of Netanyahu”.

Art

A largely forgotten surrealist painter from Lancashire has unexpectedly become the most valuable British-born female artist at auction, says Artsy. Leonora Carrington, who died in 2011 aged 94, was relatively unknown until last week, when a fierce bidding war at Sotheby’s in New York saw her work Les Distractions de Dagobert (pictured) go for a cool £22m. The sale to Argentine billionaire Eduardo Costantini makes Carrington the fourth highest-selling surrealist of all time, and the fifth highest-selling ­female artist ever.

Inside politics

If there’s one thing that defines the EU’s big foreign policy decisions, says Wolfgang Münchau in Eurointelligence, it’s fear. The bloc steps up support for Ukraine when Kyiv’s troops “are about to lose”, but gets uncomfortable when they win back territory, fearing Russian nuclear retaliation. Europe has ample leverage on the Israel-Palestine conflict – Germany is the second-largest military exporter to Israel; the EU is the biggest donor of Palestinian aid – but “fear of being called anti-Semitic” stops the bloc acting decisively. And while Europe’s leaders accept that Donald Trump may well return to the White House, they’re doing nothing whatsoever to prepare for it. In a fast-changing world, this fear-driven approach “risks paralysis”.

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Quirk of history

On 17 November 1970, The Sun printed a photograph of 20-year-old model Stephanie Marrian sitting in a field, “one breast fully visible”, on page 3 of its daily paper, says The Guardian. It was a hit: The Sun’s circulation nearly doubled in a year, prompting the other tabloids to follow suit. The tradition continued for almost 50 years until, after much noisy protesting, the newspaper replaced topless women with “clothed glamour models” in 2015. The last holdout was the Daily Star, which featured its last bare-breasted page 3 model in April 2019.

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Raisi shortly before his death. Getty

Few Iranians will mourn the “Butcher of Tehran”

It’s no surprise that news of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi’s death in a helicopter crash was greeted with “fireworks in the streets of Tehran”, says Marc Champion in Bloomberg. Shortly after coming to power in 2021, the hardliner imposed a crackdown on female dress codes that led to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the country’s morality police. The resulting protests were “the largest in the history of the Islamic Republic”, and were put down only with “brutal repression” that left hundreds dead. Raisi did no better on the economy. Despite a big rise in oil exports, growth has been sluggish and inflation has skyrocketed: consumer prices rose 42.7% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023. It’s impossible to know who will replace the so-called “Butcher of Tehran”, as Raisi became known after ordering the mass executions of regime opponents in 1988. But few in Iran will mourn his demise.

The more important succession story “lies a bit further in the future”, says The Economist. Iran’s “ailing” supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, turned 85 last month, and Raisi – despite his domestic policy missteps – was considered one of the two leading candidates to succeed him. The other candidate is Khamenei’s second son, Mojtaba. But “a hereditary transfer of power in a regime that came to power by overthrowing a hereditary monarchy” may not go down well with the people. If he gets the top job, Mojtaba would probably have to rely on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to “weather any backlash” – which would likely strengthen the IRGC’s role and influence in the regime. “That could mean less religious conservatism at home but even more antagonism abroad.”

Gone viral

This video of the “babies race” held between innings at a baseball ground in Savannah, Georgia has racked up nearly four million views on X. “Best thing on the internet today,” says one commenter, while another asks: “HOW DO I BET ON THIS?” Watch to see which babe wins here.

Letters

To The Times:

Your correspondence on the subject of attaching warning bells to both cats and bicycles reminded me of the advice given to hikers in the wilds of America to carry pepper spray and attach small bells to their clothing to alert grizzly bears to their approach. Another suggestion is to be on the lookout for the bears’ droppings, which typically smell of pepper and contain small bells.

John Burscough
Brigg, Lincs

Snapshot

Snapshot answer

It’s a dog that has been dyed to look like a panda, says Sky News. The new panda exhibition at Taizhou Zoo in eastern China was unveiled earlier this month, but visitors were surprised to discover that the animals were in fact chow chows painted black and white. Staff have defended the exhibit, saying they made it clear the animals were “panda dogs”, and that it was the visitors’ fault they were taken in by the disguise.

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Quoted

“No coffee is ever quite as good as it smells.”
Crime writer Ngaio Marsh

That’s it. You’re done.