Peter Myers: Israel & USA will become pariah states unless they comply with ICJ order to stop Rafah offensive

(1) The Economist comes out against ICC warrant on Netanyahu
(2) ICJ orders Israel to stop Rafah offensive
(3) Unless it stops an Israeli invasion of Rafah, the US could be a global pariah
(4) Israel should obey ICJ and dump Netanyahu – Noa Landau in Haaretz
(5) Obeying the ICJ Order Is Israel’s Last Opportunity to Save Itself From Becoming a Pariah State – Gideon Levy in Haaretz

(1) The Economist comes out against ICC warrant on Netanyahu

This is significant because The Economist represents the Globalist faction of Judaism (the ICC being a Globalist court), against the Zionist faction. This Leader shows that, when the heat is on, they retreat from Globalism back to Zionism – Peter M.

Leaders | Lawfare v warfare

The war-crimes case against the leaders of Israel and Hamas is flawed
Politics and diplomacy, not courts, are the key to ending violence and starting two-state talks

May 23rd 2024

The gaza war is a diplomatic disaster for Israel, a military quagmire and a human tragedy. In has stepped Karim Khan, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (icc), who has accused Israeli and Hamas leaders of war crimes. He believes he is creating moral clarity, asserting the primacy of international law and thereby delivering justice. On all three counts he is likely to be disappointed.

On May 20th Mr Khan asked icc judges to issue five arrest warrants. Two target the brains behind Hamas’s atrocities: Muhammad Deif and Yahya Sinwar, holed up in Gaza; a third is for Ismail Haniyeh, its political chief, who is in Qatar. Mr Khan also asked for warrants for Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, and the defence minister, Yoav Gallant, whom he accuses of inflicting starvation, murder and extermination.

The gravity of the claims and the fact that some countries dispute the legitimacy of the icc make it essential that its prosecutor should meticulously calibrate his accusations and follow due process. Instead Mr Khan has pursued maximal claims against the two Israelis and short-circuited procedure.

The Economist believes Israel has very probably breached the laws of war by failing to meet its obligations under the Geneva Convention of 1949, to provide food and medicine to civilians under its occupation “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”. After October 7th several ministers also threatened retribution and collective punishment. However, it is a leap to go from this to asserting there is an intentional, systematic criminal scheme to starve civilians.

That is the jump Mr Khan’s allegations make, and as a result they are both more serious and contestable.

Mr Khan has stretched procedure by requesting charges against the two men. He is right that the icc has jurisdiction because, although Israel is not a party to the icc statute, the Palestinian territories are. However, the icc should prosecute only when states are “unwilling or unable to do so genuinely”. Israel is a democracy with an independent judiciary.

Its Supreme Court is hearing a petition on aid to Gaza. Were the government to fall, as is likely, its successor would probably appoint a judge-led commission of inquiry into the war. These mechanisms may ultimately fail, and have sometimes failed in the past, but Mr Khan cannot simply bypass them. Israel must have a chance to prove that this time they will work.

The charges against the Hamas bosses and the Israelis are formally separate, but Mr Khan has chosen to wrap them up in a single package. His request for warrants against Hamas could have come soon after October 7th, but he delayed for nearly eight months. He argues that his actions show how all five men are equal before the law. But bundling them together also signals that democratically elected leaders whose state has been attacked belong in the company of terrorists.

The best explanation for Mr Khan’s approach is that he believes that, for international law to be seen as more than a tool of the West, he had to be seen to intervene and be willing to prosecute both sides. But even if the judges issue warrants, they are unlikely to try the cases, because all five men are beyond the reach of icc signatories.

At some level, the icc works by consensus, which means it must navigate international politics. Support for it around the world is already fragile. America, China and India are not parties; Russia withdrew in 2016 and wants to discredit it, because President Vladimir Putin has been indicted. Now America has said it has no confidence in this latest, flawed, request for warrants.

President Joe Biden called it “outrageous” and Antony Blinken, secretary of state, said he will consider imposing sanctions on the court.

There are silver linings. Mr Sinwar and Mr Haniyeh may be excluded from a future Palestinian state’s government, which would probably be a signatory to the icc.

Although a divided Israel has united around Mr Netanyahu, which does not help peace today, the episode may eventually weaken him, because it shows his disastrous strategy has unnecessarily exposed the country to ignominy and legal risk. A change of Israel’s government is essential to reset the war and open a path to peace. It is politics and diplomacy, not courts, that are the key to curbing violence and reviving two-state talks.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline “Lawfare v warfare”

(2) ICJ orders Israel to stop Rafah offensive

UN’s top court orders Israel to halt Rafah offensive in landmark ruling
By Riley Stuart in London

In short: The UN’s top court ordered Israel to stop its Rafah invasion, in an emergency measure imposed on Friday.
Israel began its invasion into parts of the city, in Gaza’s south, earlier this month.
What’s next: While the court’s ruling is considered binding, it doesn’t have the power to actually enforce it.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Israel to halt its military offensive inside Rafah in southern Gaza, in a landmark ruling unlikely to have any impact on the ground.

South Africa had asked the United Nations’ top court, located in The Hague, to impose new emergency measures on Israel’s military campaign in Rafah, saying it must be stopped to ensure the survival of the Palestinian people.

Israel began its invasion of parts of Rafah earlier this month and at least 800,000 Palestinians have fled from the city since.

The ICJ said its ruling was influenced by the deteriorating humanitarian situation inside Gaza, calling it “disastrous”.

South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation director-general Zane Dangor said his country welcomed the ruling.

“This order is ground-breaking as it is the first time that explicit mention is made for Israel to halt its military action in any area of Gaza,” he said.

The ICJ also ordered Israel to open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, which the country’s military recently took control of, to allow humanitarian aid into the strip.

On top of that, the court ordered Israel to let UN investigators into Gaza and report back on its progress in all areas within a month.

The ICJ’s 15 judges voted 13-2 on all measures. The dissenting voices were from Israel itself and Uganda.

While the ICJ’s rulings are considered binding, the court has no power to enforce them.

Israel has previously indicated it would continue its military campaign in Gaza, despite any ruling.

In Israel, some MPs criticised the ICJ decision, highlighting the fact it did not connect an end to fighting in Gaza with the return of Israeli hostages Hamas took in its October attack.

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said his country was “committed to continue fighting to return its hostages and promise the security of its citizens — wherever and whenever necessary — including in Rafah”.

Hamas official Basem Naim said the militant group welcomed the ICJ’s ruling, but said it also wanted Israel to stop its attacks on other parts of Gaza, not just Rafah.

A protester makes their voice heard in The Hague on Friday.(Reuters: Johanna Geron)
The ruling is part of a wider case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide, which Israel has consistently denied. An overall ruling on that will likely take much longer, potentially years.

While the ICJ imposed several provisional measures in March in a bid to limit the suffering in Gaza and ensure evidence of potential genocide was not destroyed, the court’s president Nawaf Salam on Friday told the hearing they were no longer sufficient.

Hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians have sought shelter in Rafah over the course of the seven-month war, while other areas of the Gaza Strip were attacked.

An IDF spokesperson has said the army was operating “carefully and precisely” in Rafah now.

At a hearing last week, South Africa’s lawyers told the court Israel’s attacks on Rafah “must be stopped”.

Israel claims its operations in Gaza are about protecting its own citizens from Hamas militants who attacked Israel on October 7.

Palestinian Authority spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the ICJ’s decision represented the “international consensus on the demand to stop the all-out war on Gaza”.

While Israel is unlikely to abide by the ruling, legal pressure is mounting.

Separately, the top prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) revealed earlier this week he was seeking arrest warrants for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh and Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri.

The court could take several months to make a decision on whether to grant them.

The ICC and ICJ are both based in The Hague but have different functions. The ICC prosecutes individuals over matters like alleged war crimes, while the ICJ rules on disputes between states.

(3) Unless it stops an Israeli invasion of Rafah, the US could be a global pariah

Mohamad Bazzi

The international court of justice has ordered Israel to halt its attack on Rafah. The US has a last chance to stop this bloodshed

Sat 25 May 2024 06.33 AEST

The international court of justice (ICJ) on Friday ordered Israel to halt its military assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where about half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have taken refuge in recent months. The ruling is the closest that the UN’s top court has come to ordering a ceasefire, and it further exposes Israel and its closest supporters, especially the US and the UK, for their disregard of international law and institutions.

For much of the world, Israel is now a pariah state that has repeatedly ignored pressure from international bodies to end its brutal war in Gaza, stop using starvation as a weapon of war, and allow more aid into the besieged territory. On Monday, the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court (ICC), a separate tribunalalso based in The Hague, announced he was seeking arrest warrants for senior Hamas and Israeli leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the 7 October attack by Hamas and the ensuing war in Gaza. The prosecutor is seeking warrants against the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defence minister, Yoav Gallant, as well as three top Hamas leaders.

On Wednesday, the leaders of Ireland, Spain and Norway said they would recognize an independent Palestinian state, underlining frustration in Europe with Netanyahu’s rightwing government, which continues to oppose Palestinian statehood and expand settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Joe Biden and his administration should be using these international judgments and Israel’s growing isolation as leverage to stop US weapons shipments to Israel and pressure Netanyahu’s government to end its war. Instead, Biden and his top aides spent months trying to discredit various international courts, and especially the case at the ICJ, which South Africa first brought in December and which accused Israel of violating the genocide convention.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, described South Africa’s case as “meritless”, only to see the world court allow the case to go forward and issue an order in late January requiring Israel to prevent acts of genocide by its troops and allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza. South Africa’s lawyers noted that Israel had not complied with the court’s previous decision and asked the ICJ last week to impose new emergency measures to stop Israel’s invasion of Rafah.

It could take years for the tribunal to rule on whether Israel has committed genocide, but emergency orders such as the one issued on Friday are intended to prevent more bloodshed in Gaza while the case makes its way through the ICJ’s process. The court’s orders are binding on its member states, but the ICJ does not have an enforcement mechanism – and Israel and its allies have been flouting the tribunal’s decisions since January.

The ICJ can refer matters to the UN security council, but the Biden administration has already used it veto power three times to protect Israel from demands for a ceasefire in the council. In March, the US finally abstained and allowed the council to approve a ceasefire resolution. Israel ignored that measure and Washington went to great lengths to insist that the resolution was “non-binding”, even though security council resolutions are supposed to carry the weight of international law. It’s very likely that Biden would use the US’s veto power to protect Israel from additional measures at the UN that seek to enforce the international court’s rulings.

Biden has shown no interest in holding Israel accountable for its actions in Gaza or in enforcing international law, despite promising to put protection of human rights at the center of US foreign policy soon after he took office. Biden’s lofty rhetoric about respect for human rights fell apart with his unconditional support of Israel’s assault on Gaza, which has killed about 36,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, unleashed famine and displaced more than 75% of the population.

The Biden administration is not only exposing itself to charges of hypocrisy over its refusal to support the international court’s rulings on Israel, when it has urged US adversaries, especially Russia and Myanmar, to abide by past ICJ decisions. Biden and his top aides are also exposing the US – and even themselves – to potential complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity, considering that Washington is the largest supplier of weapons to Israel, providing $3.8bn in military aid a year. After months of lobbying by Biden, Congress recently approved $26bn in additional aid to Israel, which includes $14bn in unconditional military assistance.

After announcing on 8 May that his administration had suspended a single shipment of arms to Israel, delaying the delivery of 3,500 bombs, Biden shifted course less than a week later and resumed sending far more weapons than he had held back. On 14 May, the administration notified Congress that it had approved more than $1bn in new arms shipments to Israel, even as it became clear that Netanyahu was moving ahead with a ground invasion of Rafah, despite months of warnings from Washington. In this latest arms package, the US plans to provide Israel with $700m in tank ammunition, $500m in tactical vehicles and $60m in mortar rounds.

Netanyahu and his government were openly defying Biden’s “red line” of invading Rafah – and forcing more than 1 million Palestinians driven out of their homes in other parts of Gaza by the Israeli military to flee once again. How did Biden respond? By withholding one shipment of bombs, and then undermining any leverage he had over Netanyahu by assuring the steady flow of other weapons to Israel.

In fact, with its latest ruling on Friday, the international court has done more to enforce Biden’s supposed red line on Rafah than the US administration. Based on his past dismissal of the ICJ and other international bodies that ruled against Israel, Biden is unlikely to stop sending weapons to Israel. The administration has had access to many human rights groups and independent monitors that have documented Israel’s numerous violations of international law, including its use of starvation as a method of war and its campaign to block the delivery of aid into Gaza.

Biden and his top aides presumably want to avoid being implicated in supporting a genocide, but so far they have shown little willingness to end US assistance and force Israel to stop the bloodshed in Gaza. Instead, they are willing to risk the US becoming a pariah.

Mohamad Bazzi is director of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, and a journalism professor at New York University

(4) Israel should obey ICJ and dump Netanyahu – Noa Landau in Haaretz

Analysis | Why ICJ’s Gaza Ruling Is Actually Good for Israel (And Bad for Netanyahu)

The ICJ demonstrated last Friday that it does not deny Israel’s right to defend itself, but demands that combat in Gaza observe international law. Just like the PM and his partners wish to shatter the public’s confidence in Israel’s legal system – they now want to undermine confidence in international legal institutions.

Noa Landau

May 25, 2024 10:21 pm IDT

The International Court of Justice in The Hague has proved yet again, in contrast to the massive campaign orchestrated by the Netanyahu government against it, that it is an institution trying to fulfill its historical role under unprecedented restrictions and pressure, including explicit political threats.

For the second time on the topic of the war in the Gaza Strip, the court demonstrated last Friday that it does not deny Israel’s citizens the right to defense and security, but is demanding that combat in Gaza be carried out while observing most of the principles of international law.

In other words, Israel’s right to defend itself, and in this case to fight Hamas, cannot serve as a green light for killing and destruction, with an indiscriminate killing of thousands of innocent people, mass expulsions, starvation, occupation and annexation, as is frequently threatened here, including by publicly elected officials.

The court did not accept the demands of the plaintiff, South Africa, as is, and did not order Israel to immediately desist from any kind of combat. It also didn’t rule on the plaintiff’s demand that the court determine that genocide is being carried out in Gaza. It ordered Israel to stop its military operation in Rafah to the extent that it creates conditions that could “lead to the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population.”

The judges repeated their demand that Israel allow the entry of humanitarian aid and essential services into Gaza, including letting in UN representatives as observers. This is because international law is not meant to prevent wars, only to regulate how even the most justified wars are fought.

The judge representing Israel, Aharon Barak, opposed the decision, as expected, based mainly on the argument that Israel was already fulfilling these obligations, which is why it does not have to stop the war. However, the court’s ruling deliberately left a vague space open to interpretation on this matter. This places the responsibility for addressing the issue at the feet of executive and enforcement agencies, such as the UN Security Council, in which considerations are purely political.

Indeed, Israel’s official response was that it does not and will not carry out operations in Gaza which would lead to the destruction of Palestinian civilians, and that it would “continue its efforts” to allow the entry of humanitarian aid while minimizing as much as possible any harm to civilians. This will be Israel’s line of defense against the ruling in The Hague: There is no activity in Rafah meeting the court’s definition, ergo, there is nothing to stop.

Let’s assume that this is true. Has Israel held a real internal investigation regarding claims that the rules of engagement have been loosened? Or about deliberate starvation? What body is even capable of conducting an independent inquiry here and now? Are we convinced that a government whose members preach killing and annexation on a daily basis doesn’t mean what it says? Is the head of the government fighting in Gaza a different Benjamin Netanyahu than the one frequently threatening to utterly destroy the democratic, liberal foundations of this country?

Ask, for example, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. While Israel ostensibly embraces the humanitarian aid to Gaza, he expressed displeasure at the allocation of police forces for the protection of aid convoys from Israeli gangs that beleaguer them.

No Israeli, certainly no one who considers him or herself to be part of the democratic and liberal world, can object to the court’s decision and to the basic principles it reflects. No Israeli, other than Netanyahu, and the members of the most extremist cabinet that this country has ever had. They have a clear interest in delegitimizing international institutions, chiefly international enforcement bodies.

Just like Netanyahu and his partners wish to shatter and undermine the public’s confidence in Israel’s legal system – the prime minister for his personal reasons, and they for the purpose of advancing their extremist ideology – they now want to undermine confidence in international legal institutions.

It’s time to break free not only from Netanyahu the man, but from the narrative he has shaped here for more than a decade. The fact that most Israelis supported embarking on war against Hamas in response to the atrocities of October 7, or that many Israelis and their relatives went to fight that war, does not mean that they support or should necessarily support any decision made since that time by the leaders of this war.

International law and its institutions are not against Israel but are for it. For an Israel that fights Hamas, not the children of Gaza; for an Israel that fights for the return of its hostages without threats of massacre and the transfer of innocents; for an Israel that is credible, where its leaders can be believed when they say that they truly mean to fight Hamas and not the entire Palestinian population, without intending to fill Gaza and the West Bank with Jews; for an Israel that takes pride in providing humanitarian aid and will stop anyone trying to attack convoy trucks; for an Israel that deserves better leaders who are not suspected of war crimes.

The procedures in The Hague favor Israel, and the campaign against them serves mainly one person, who could soon find himself in court, facing new accusations.

(5) Obeying the ICJ Order Is Israel’s Last Opportunity to Save Itself From Becoming a Pariah State

Gideon Levy

May 26, 2024 12:31 am IDT

Israel has only one way out; it won’t choose it. The only way to avoid tumbling into the abyss whose edges we now skirt is to say yes to Friday’s ruling by the International Court of Justice.

This is how a state governed by laws must behave. This is how a state that aspires to be a legitimate member of the family of nations should behave. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should have already promised compliance on Friday evening. The gates of hell that threaten to open on Israel would remain closed, at least briefly. An Israel that obeys the Court will be a state that is ruled by laws and that must be respected.

By saying yes, he would not only have saved it from further pointless bloodshed in Rafah, he also would have stopped the international snowball that is barreling toward the state. Ending the fighting in Rafah and the entire war is Israel’s last possible chance to regain its prewar international standing. It’s not much, but it’s much more than it has today.

If Israel decides to ignore the order – a near certainty – it will be declaring itself a pariah state. Recovery from this situation will take years and extract an intolerable price, some of it personal, from every Israeli.

But as always, Israel is searching for ways to ignore the order and to recruit Washington into undermining international law. It is hard to imagine any greater folly. We must hope, of course, for America and for Israel, that this time the United States will draw the line on its willingness to defy the entire world, and international law, for the sake of its wayward protégé state.

One step from the abyss, there are two urgent measures that Israel must take: ending the war and replacing its government. The world’s top two courts ordered it to do exactly that. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requested international arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and defense minister, and the International Court of Justice ordered an end to the fighting in Rafah.

If arrest warrants are issued for Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, they will have to replace the government if they want to survive. Ending the fighting in Rafah will bring an end to the whole war and also the release of the hostages. Israel will not comply with either ruling. They are too logical, correct, and just for it.

Since the hasty withdrawal from Sinai in 1956, Israel has never acceded to the will of the international community, as if the world and its decisions have nothing to do with it. Invulnerable and protected by America, the Bible and a certain nuclear research center in Dimona, it has always acted as if it had license to scoff at the whole world. That ended the day it invaded Gaza in such a brutal, unchecked manner.

Judge Nawaf Salam, the president of the ICJ, barely finished reading out the verdict when Israel intensified its attacks on Rafah, a city from which almost 1 million people have fled for the beaches and in which just one, eight-bed hospital remains.

Salam was still reading the ruling when, for the first time in years, Sufyan Abu Zaydeh, a former minister of prisoners’ affairs in the Palestinian Authority, who fled from Gaza to Cairo, called me: Eight members of his family were killed Wednesday in Jabalya.

Marwa, his niece, was the only one who was not asleep when the missile tore into her family’s home. She saw it all, like in a horror movie, she told her uncle in the Egyptian capital. The missile killed his other niece, Iman; in her arms was her 7-month-old daughter, who was also killed. Her 4-year-old son was thrown into the neighbors’ apartment and killed. She also saw how the missile tore apart the bodies of her 4-year-old twins, Isr and Asr, and severed the arm of her son Nasser, 7. Marwa’s mother and brother were also killed before her eyes by the missile. She lost her husband at the beginning of the war. He was killed during the funeral of his niece.

This is what the International Court of Justice demanded an end to Friday. This is Israel’s last chance.