Israel and more on trial in Den Haag

Israel and more on trial in Den Haag
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the UN, holds public hearings on the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by South Africa in the case South Africa v. Israel on 11 and 12 January 2024, at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the Court. Session held under the presidency of Judge Joan E. Donoghue, President of the Court. The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized UN organs and agencies.

Israel had to stand trial due its actions in Gaza and West Jordan before the International Court of Justice in Den Haag, Netherlands. The Republic of South Africa presented end of December an indictment against Israel, accusing it of committing genocide against the Palestinian population. The trial was held on January 11 and 12.

South Africa presented an 84-page document that called the court to establish Israel’s responsibility for violations of the Genocide Convention; to hold it fully accountable under international law for those violations; and —most immediately — to have recourse to this Court to ensure the urgent and fullest possible protection for Palestinians in Gaza who remain at grave and immediate risk of continuing and further acts of genocide.”

Several countries supported South Africa’s plea, among them Algeria, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Iran, Türkiye and Venezuela. Others are discussing to join the plea.

The South African delegation demanded also that the court shall order provisional measures. Chrispin Phiri, spokesperson of the South African Ministry of Justice, explains in interview that these aim to “halt the ongoing genocide” first and ensure to get to negotiate a peaceful solution.

The measures, in summary consisting of 9 different points, begin by the court ordering Israel to “immediately suspend its military actions in and against Gaza”.  Israel is also called to refrain from any deprivation of access to food and water, and blockade of humanitarian aid and any forceful displacement of Palestinians from their homes.  

Hundreds of political parties and social movements also support the South African motion, with politicians from several countries attending the trial.

Says Ada Colau, former Mayor of Barcelona, Spain, in interview:

“There has been a very important initiative which is the denunciation of South Africa, and we are here to support that initiative of South Africa. We believe that it is essential that all countries join in, including Spain. We are pressing for Spain to also position itself in favor of South Africa’s denunciation, especially with an objective that is a permanent ceasefire, that is, to stop the massacre, which is a massacre against the entire population. These are no longer war crimes, but children, women, innocent civilians, journalists, and health professionals are being systematically killed. It is evident that in the statements of the highest political and military leaders and in their actions, they are demonstrating that what they intend is to displace and exterminate the entire Palestinian people.”

Others underline the importance to exercise pressure. Gerardo Pizzarello, Member of Spain’s parliament, calls on his government to turn words into further action:

“We demand of Prime Minister Sanchez, who has condemned the Israeli bombardments, a further step in stopping any arms trade with Israeli and to join South Africa’s motion.”

Gerardo Pizzarello, Member of Spanish Parliament

Peter Mertens, Secretary General of the Belgian Workers’ Party, represented in the parliament with 15 members, says only pressure can change political positions.

“After pressure from the people’s movement and the manifestation, after pressure especially from the trade unions to have also a complaint here and to join the South African government, there are now voices within the Belgium government who want to join the motion.

For Zane Dangor, the case is more than just about Israel’s actions. Dangor is Director General of the South African Department for International Relations and Cooperation, that is, the Foreign Ministry, and member of his countries’ delegation in Den Haag.

“I think what this case does is actually in many ways decolonize international law. It takes away the control and the idea that international law is skewed for the most powerful countries in this world and actually makes the case now for us to argue and actually makes the case now for us to argue for international law to be applicable to all without fear or favor.”

Zane Dangor, Director General of South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

Mertens from the Workers’ Party calls Europe into action due to its historic responsibility, and also to take a historic decision:

“Especially for Europe I think it’s very important that it’s European colonization for 500 years, European superiority for 500 years, so-called superiority. And now it’s the time also that European democratic governments have to take side with the Palestinians against the Israeli aggression, but also against the U.S. aggression behind this Israeli aggression, against, for example, the weapons that are still transported via Belgium and other ports towards Israel. It is time now for Europe to stand up also and to have again a place on the humanitarian side of history.”

For Craig Murray, a career diplomat, former British ambassador to Central Asian countries who today underlines that his home country is Scotland and who refuses any responsibility for London’s actions, the case is also about stopping NATO’s aggression.

“NATO, which was a North Atlantic organization, has lost its direction. It was involved in the invasion of Afghanistan, in the destruction of Libya. Now we have NATO forces in the Mediterranean, intimidating Hezbollah, in the Red Sea, intimidating the Houthis. But the truth is that the NATO alliance has once again become the most destructive force in current international relations, responsible for millions of deaths. Furthermore, they have done so much for the destruction of international law. And today they seek to undermine the International Court of Justice. If the court succeeds in maintaining a firm position against genocide, this will be an important confirmation of international law. But we know that enormous diplomatic efforts to undermine the judges, in their private lives, not only by Israel, but also by the United States and the United Kingdom. This is an important test for international law.”

The judgment over the accusation of genocide may take years. But the court is expected to judge soon over the intermediate measures demanded by South Africa. Though the court has no capacity to enforce the decision upon Israel, which has defended itself but also announced not to abide by the decision, a decision by the International Court of Justice against Tel Aviv might strengthen furthermore those rejecting US-Israeli aggression and defending, ultimately, not only peace in Gaza but also the accepted transition to a multipolar world.

Cover photo: Photograph: UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/Frank van Beek. Courtesy of the ICJ.

Yunus Soner

Political Scientist, former Deputy Chairman of Vatan Party (Türkiye) Soner has participated in diplomatic visits to China, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and Mexico, among others. He has conducted meetings with President Bashar Al Assad (Syria), President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran), President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (Mexico), Manuel Zelaya (Honduras) and Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Finances and Representatives of Parliament from various countries. He has worked on Turkish-Russian, Turkish-Syrian, Turkish-Chinese and Turkish-Egyptian relations as well as on Latin America. Soner has had media participation in various international media channels, among them Russia Today and Sputnik (Russia), CGTN (China), Press TV (Iran), Syrian TV, El Mayaddin (Lebanon) and Telesur (Venezuela) and Turkish media. He has been a columnist to Turkish daily newspaper Aydınlık




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May 2024