With Anglo-American Backing, Israel Defies the World Court

The International Court of Justice opened one week of hearings on Feb. 19 on the request of the UN General Assembly for an Advisory Opinion on “Israeli practices affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem”. This case is pursuant to the request submitted in Dec. 2022 and is separate from the complaint filed by South Africa charging Israel with genocide. The first day of the hearing heard from representatives of Palestine, starting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.

The testimonies given by the various speakers made crystal clear that the human rights of the Palestinian people have been brutally violated and repressed for decades, leading up to the unspeakable horror unfolding today in Gaza. Lawyers for Palestine made the point that the “occupation” of Palestine is not only illegal but has become permanent, so that by all measures the so-called “occupied territories” have in reality been annexed.

Over the course of the week, 52 states and three international organizations (Arab League, OIC, African Union) are scheduled to give oral testimony. Israel will not participate and has called the whole procedure “despicable” and “disgraceful”. Due to our deadline, we will report on the highlights of the proceedings in our next issue.

In addition to this case, the ICJ issued a ruling on Feb. 15 on an emergency complaint filed against the government of Prime Minister Netanyahu three days before by South Africa, asking the court to take additional measures to prevent a massacre in Rafah. The ruling states that the measures the ICJ ordered to take on Jan. 26 are sufficient and must be implemented fully (cf. SAS 6/24). Israel responded to this second request by attacking South Africa as “an ally of Hamas terrorists”, and denying any violation of humanitarian law in Gaza.

Two days later, Algeria, which is currently a member of the UN Security Council, drafted a new resolution for the UNSC demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to be respected by all parties and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. But U.S. ambassador Thomas-Greenfield immediately stated that she would veto it, thus ensuring its defeat. And that’s exactly what she did when it came up for a vote on Feb. 20. The UK abstained and all other 13 members of the UNSC voted in favor.

The Biden Administration has consistently refused to call for a ceasefire, and has certainly not threatened to cut off weapons supplies and aid to Israel should the killing and destruction continue. However, it does claim to support a two-state solution and to be working with Saudi Arabia on a hostage deal which would also include a definite timeline for Palestinian statehood. Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet promptly rejected in no uncertain terms such “international diktats” regarding a settlement.

Nonetheless, the pressure on the Israeli government continues to grow (cf. below), including from inside the country and among Jewish and other groups in the United States. Last weekend, over 50 demonstrations took place throughout Israel, including in front of Netanyahu’s personal residence. In the U.S., the home of Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been besieged for weeks now, with protesters demanding a ceasefire camped out in front.

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