Bernie Sanders breaks from Biden and Blinken to support ICC's arrest warrant request

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) expressed support on Monday for the International Criminal Court in its request for arrest warrants of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoev Gallant, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, and others for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"The ICC prosecutor is right to take these actions. These arrest warrants may or may not be carried out, but it is imperative that the global community uphold international law, Sanders said in a statement. "Without these standards of decency and morality, this planet may rapidly descend into anarchy, never-ending wars, and barbarism."

The independent senator from Vermont's approval of the ICC's latest actions stands in stark contrast with the Biden administration's decision to authorize over $1 billion in weapons to the Israeli government despite concern from hundreds of former Obama-Biden staffers over Israel's conduct. Additionally, a recent State Department report acknowledged that it was "reasonable to assess" that Israel was using US-made weapons in ways inconsistent with international humanitarian law.

The split between Sanders and Biden on the validity of the ICC's request comes at a time when the administration's support for Israel's military actions is facing increasing scrutiny from traditionally reliable Democrat voting blocs, most notably in the form of protests on college campuses nationwide and Arab Americans voters, especially in Michigan, a swing state.

More: US blasts 'profoundly wrong-headed' effort to seek arrest warrant for Netanyahu: Updates

What does the Biden administration say?

The ICC issued requests for the arrest warrants following weeks of anticipation. Biden condemned the action as "outrageous" and said that it unfairly equated Israel with Hamas.

The views of Biden's State Department are similar, with spokesman Matt Miller stating, "We do not believe the ICC has jurisdiction over either party in this case because the Palestinian people do not represent a state."

The Biden administration has not always been opposed to the ICC filing war crimes charges during ongoing conflicts. In 2023, Biden said that an ICC arrest warrant issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin was "justified" and that Russia had "clearly committed war crimes" in its invasion of Ukraine.

What does the application for arrests say?

The claims listed against Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh include charges of "taking hostages as a war crime," "torture as a crime against humanity," and "murder as a crime against humanity."

The claims listed against Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant include "starvation of civilians as a method of warfare," "intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as a war crime," and "extermination and/or murder."

Cy Neff reports on Wyoming politics for USA Today. You can reach him at or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @CyNeffNews

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sanders supports ICC arrest warrant for Netanyahu, breaking with Biden