A cross-party group of MPs and Lords has called on the Government “to do all it can to support the International Criminal Court” (ICC) after the Prime Minister called the ICC’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders “deeply unhelpful”.

The letter, addressed to Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron and organised by Labour MPs Richard Burgon and Imran Hussain, states that “there is mounting evidence that Israel has committed clear and obvious violations of international law in Gaza and we strongly believe that those responsible must be held to account”.

Signed by 105 MPs and Lords from 11 parties, the letter calls on the Government “to take a clear stance against any attempts to intimidate an independent and impartial international court”, adding “the Court, its Prosecutor, and all its staff must be free to pursue justice without fear or favour”.

The chief prosecutor of the ICC has said he will apply for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with defence minister Yoav Gallant and Hamas leaders Yehya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh.

Mr Burgon said although the Government has “rightly condemned the war crimes committed by Hamas on 7 October, it has repeatedly refused to condemn the war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza”.

“At every stage, our Government has failed to fulfil its moral duty to do everything it can to help save lives and prevent suffering in Gaza. It must not fail again,” he said.

“It must back the ICC in ensuring that there is no impunity for war crimes and it must stand up to those seeking to impede justice.”

Meanwhile, Mr Hussain said it is “clear that Israel is carrying out war crimes” and urged the Government to “take a stance for the rules-based order and insist on accountability for those perpetrating war crimes”.

The letter follows comments from Rishi Sunak on Tuesday, in which he branded the move a “deeply unhelpful development”, as he insisted there is no moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel’s government.

Speaking to reporters in Vienna, Austria, the Prime Minister said: “This is a deeply unhelpful development. Of course it is still subject to a final decision, but it remains deeply unhelpful nonetheless.

“There is no moral equivalence between a democratic state exercising its lawful right to self-defence and the terrorist group Hamas.”

Rishi Sunak visit to Austria
Mr Sunak said the ICC’s decision ‘will make absolutely no difference in getting a pause in the fighting, getting aid into the region, or indeed the hostages out’ (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

He added: “It is wrong to conflate and equivocate between those two different entities.

“What I am very clear is that this will make absolutely no difference in getting a pause in the fighting, getting aid into the region, or indeed the hostages out.”

Karim Khan, the British chief prosecutor of the ICC, claimed the leaders are responsible for war crimes in Gaza and Israel.

Mr Khan, a KC specialising in international human rights law who was elected to his ICC position in February 2021, accused Israel of using “starvation as a method of warfare” and carrying out “collective punishment” of the population of Gaza.

Regarding the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, he said the terrorist actions were “unconscionable crimes” that “demand accountability”.

A panel of three ICC judges must consider Mr Khan’s application, in a process that takes an average of two months.

As Israel is not a member of the ICC, neither Mr Netanyahu nor Mr Gallant would be at immediate risk of arrest should the judges agree to issue warrants, but it could make it difficult for either man to travel abroad.