Sat 25 May 2024 10:32 am - Jerusalem Time

ICJ decision deepens Israel's isolation on the international scene

The New York Times said that the International Court of Justice's decision deepens the isolation that Israel suffers from on the international scene.

On Friday, judges of the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to stop its attack on Rafah, as part of a broader case accusing Israel of committing genocide. Before pronouncing the ruling, Lebanese Judge Nawaf Salam, President of the International Court of Justice, said: “The living conditions of the people of Gaza are deteriorating and the humanitarian situation has become catastrophic,” noting that “the humanitarian situation in Rafah has deteriorated further since the court’s last order.”

He added: "About 800,000 people have been displaced from Rafah since the start of the ground attack on May 7." He continued: "The court considers the military attack in Rafah a dangerous development that increases the suffering of the population."

Judge Salam explained: “Israel must refrain from any actions that pose a danger to the Palestinians,” highlighting that “the temporary measures taken do not fully address the consequences of the changing situation.”

The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his government find themselves increasingly confined to an increasingly narrow corner, due to the devastating war launched by Israel on the Gaza Strip, which has aroused the anger of world public opinion, and has placed Netanyahu and his government before two of the most important courts in the world, “the Court International Justice and the International Criminal Court.

Israeli officials showed defiance before the ruling was issued, vowing to continue their war, but international legal pressure is mounting as the International Court of Justice examines the case brought by South Africa in which Israel is accused of committing genocide.

Earlier this week, Karim Khan, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, announced that he had submitted a request to issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, in addition to three senior leaders of the Hamas armed movement, the head of the Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, and the leader of Hamas. In Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar and the commander of the “Qassam” forces, the military wing of the Hamas movement, Muhammad Al-Deif, for their roles in the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation on October 7, 2023. Netanyahu and countless other Israeli officials described the developments as scandalous, while the President expressed American Joe Biden and a group of other American lawmakers expressed their anger at the apparent equivalence drawn by the Attorney General between the alleged crimes of the Hamas leadership and Israeli crimes.

According to Khan's memorandum, the weight of evidence incriminating Netanyahu and Gallant, as briefly described in the Attorney General's statement, surrounds Israel's use as a weapon of war against civilians, its documented obstruction of humanitarian access to Gaza, and Israel's conduct during the war, which caused widespread damage. Inflicting indiscriminate harm on civilians. “Despite any military objectives it may have, the means Israel has chosen to achieve them in Gaza — namely, intentionally causing death, starvation, extreme suffering, and serious injury to the body or health of the civilian population — are criminal,” Khan said in his memo.

If the ICC issues arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant, the court's 124 member states will have an obligation under the treaty to arrest Israelis if they set foot on their territory. It is noteworthy that the United States and Israel did not sign the Rome Statute, the founding document of the International Criminal Court. But other Western powers do; A group of European countries have expressed their support for the independence of the International Criminal Court. When asked this week whether his government would comply if it had to act on an arrest warrant for an Israeli official, a spokesman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: “Yes, we abide by the law.”

The latest blow directed at Israel this week was the announcement by Spain, Ireland and Norway of their joining 140 other UN member states in officially recognizing the Palestinian state, regardless of the fact that a viable Palestinian state does not seem to be on the horizon on the ground. The symbolic move comes in the wake of the devastation in Gaza and a growing feeling among conflict observers that the only path to peace is to revive the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. “This is because the right-wing government in Israel, led by Netanyahu and supported by ultra-nationalists to his right, is fundamentally opposed to talk of a Palestinian state, which has prompted other countries in the West to wake up,” the Spanish foreign minister said earlier this month. "There is a need to do so, to strengthen the two-state principle however they can."

The United States has long opposed any formal recognition of a Palestinian state prior to an agreement negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians. But the White House acknowledged this week that Israel is increasingly at odds with much of the international community. Jake Sullivan, President Biden's national security adviser, said: “As a country that stands strongly in defense of Israel in international forums like the United Nations, we have certainly seen a growing group of voices, including voices that were previously supportive of Israel, being pulled in another direction.” ". He added to reporters. “This concerns us because we do not believe this contributes to the long-term security and vitality of Israel. … This is something we have discussed with the Israeli government.”

An analysis published by Foreign Affairs magazine on Friday urged the administration of US President Joe Biden not to antagonize and attack the International Criminal Court because of its recent decisions towards Israel, by issuing warrants against Israeli officials.

The analysis prepared by Oona Hathaway, a lawyer and professor specializing in international law at Yale University, one of the seven elite American universities, confirmed that the United States can help Israel without attacking the International Criminal Court, and that any “retaliation” against the court will lead to “paralyzing” its ability to Washington will continue to defend international justice in other situations in the future, especially since the United States has made “global criminal justice” a key element of its foreign policy.

She described the efforts taking place in Congress to respond to the decisions of the Criminal Court or its employees through a proposed draft law called the “Anti-Illegitimate Court Law” as a “grave mistake.”

Republican lawmakers urged US President Joe Biden to take action against the International Criminal Court. Former US President Donald Trump had imposed sanctions on the former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, in a move that Biden canceled after taking office.

Biden said on Thursday that the United States does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and that it is not possible to compare Israel and Hamas.

On the other hand, some experts believe that this increasing isolation of Israel may lead to a strengthening of Netanyahu's beleaguered position. Netanyahu has long mocked what he sees as the supposed "anti-Israel bent" of agencies within the United Nations and has portrayed Israel as a victim of global anti-Semitism.

It is noteworthy that Yonatan Freeman, a specialist in international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said in a statement to Reuters: “This really reinforces the narrative that we have heard since the first day of this war, which says that in the end we can only rely on ourselves.” “I think this can help the Israeli government explain and describe what it is doing in this war.”

But it also reflects a certain myopia within the Israeli political establishment, and perhaps its broader society, which has failed to recognize the depth of anger over their country's actions in Gaza. Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz that it is not just a matter of “squandering the international credit given to Israel after it was subjected to a brutal attack on October 7, with its leaders likely to find themselves criminally accused of war crimes,” but rather that “the development of events demonstrates the erosion of prestige.” The internationalism and diplomatic skills of Netanyahu himself. The man who claims to be a statesman is unable to achieve the strategic goals he set for this war, which entangles Israel in troubles that will haunt the state and its citizens for many years, far from the direct natural consequences of the massacre committed by Hamas.”

“In the seven months since the horrific October 7 attacks, the gap between how Israel defines its security needs and how the world defines those same needs has widened as never before,” wrote Andrew Exum, a former defense official in the Obama administration. “My conversations with Israeli friends — almost all of whom believe their country did the right thing in Gaza, even as they now demand a strategy to end the campaign — have always been tense,” he adds. “Israel is waging a punitive war against the people of Gaza, and the images of suffering and destruction that the rest of us see have been blacked out.” Israelis to a large extent.

According to experts, for its part, the Biden administration is looking forward to Israel using the difficult, complicated path it is trying to build: “a tripartite agreement between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States that would see the Jewish state normalize its relations with the influential Arab Kingdom, in a package that includes significant defense and security incentives.” From Washington, the Saudis and other regional partners will support the reconstruction process in Gaza and any interim authority brought in to run the region, but it all depends on Israel’s commitment to reviving even a process that might lead to a two-state solution – something that Netanyahu appears unwilling to do. "Absolutely."

It is noteworthy that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday: “The Saudis have been clear that [normalization] will require calm in Gaza and will require a credible path to establishing a Palestinian state... It may be... that Israel is in this "The moment is unable or unwilling to move forward on this path."


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ICJ decision deepens Israel's isolation on the international scene