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Biden and Trump during a 2020 presidentila debate. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty

President Biden on Friday revoked the sanctions imposed by his predecessor on officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in a statement.

Why it matters: Biden had promised to lift the sanctions during the campaign, but he delayed doing so at the request of Israel, which was attempting to block an ICC investigation into the situation in the West Bank and Gaza.

Behind the scenes: Blinken notified his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi of the decision during a call earlier on Friday, sources familiar with the call say.

  • Israeli officials say Biden stalled for as long as he could, but once the ICC prosecutor decided last month to open the investigation, there was no value to keeping the sanctions.
  • The Trump administration had imposed the sanctions to object to the looming Israel-Palestine probe and another investigation into the war in Afghanistan, which could implicate U.S. troops and the CIA.

What they're saying: Blinken said the decision reflected the Biden administration’s assessment that the measures adopted by the Trump administration were inappropriate and ineffective. 

  • “We continue to disagree strongly with the ICC's actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations. We maintain our longstanding objection to the Court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel," he said in the statement.
  • Blinken added that the Biden administration believes that its concerns about these cases will be better addressed through engagement with the ICC, rather than sanctions.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

8 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.