Liberation warmly welcomes ICJ ruling on genocide case against Israel

Liberation is greatly enthused by today’s landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague following its initial deliberation on a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of committing acts of genocide against the Palestinian people in its continuing onslaught against the inhabitants of Gaza.

Nelson Mandela, wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh, attends a meeting organised in his honour by the National Union of Algerian Youths, May 18, 1990, in Algiers [Abdelhak Senna/AFP]

In the sweeping ruling, a large majority of the 17-judge panel of the ICJ voted in favour of six urgent provisional measures to be taken by the government in Tel Aviv to prevent acts of genocide, covering most of the grounds requested by South Africa when it lodged the case.

The six provisional measures include for Israel to refrain from acts proscribed under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 1948 (known widely as the Genocide Convention); to actively prevent and punish such acts from being committed by its forces, as well their direct and public incitement; and to take immediate and effective measures to ensure the unimpeded provision of humanitarian aid to the civilians of Gaza.  Furthermore, the ICJ ordered Israel to preserve any evidence of genocidal acts and to report back to the Court, within one month, on the steps it has taken to ensure compliance with the order.

As has been noted in Johannesburg and elsewhere in the wake of the monumental ruling, the ICJ has essentially determined that Israel’s actions in Gaza are plausibly genocidal and that, at the very least, Israel has a case to answer.

Despite deigning not to order an outright ceasefire, a careful reading of the ruling and the entailing provisional measures to be taken by Israel makes it abundantly clear that essentially nothing short of a ceasefire would enable compliance.

And even though the ICJ, which is the United Nation’s top court, has no military or police force – and thus no means of enforcement – the ruling is nonetheless legally binding under international law. 

Liberation does not labour under the mis-illusion that this ruling somehow means an immediate or even swift cessation to Israel’s cruel campaign against the long-suffering but dignified Palestinian people.  The ruling is nonetheless significant in that it is the first of its kind to be issued against Israel since the country’s foundation in 1948, striking an important blow against the unfettered impunity it has hitherto enjoyed unjustifiably.  It has also majorly upped the level of pressure on Israel, which the immediate reactions of Netanyahu and other figures in the Israeli government are testament to, as well as its allies – not least the United States…  The Biden administration is left to ponder a recalibration, if not reformulation, of its approach and stance towards the plight of the Palestinians if it is to stave off a haemorrhaging of its support base and potential voters, particularly among urban youth, with a seemingly knife-edge presidential election looming.  Put simply, it can ill afford to hold to its current tack and snub its nose at the ICJ with the whole world watching on.

The ruling, added to the growing weight of international public opinion behind the Palestinian people and their cause, essentially places Israel in the increasingly isolated and unenviable position once occupied by the apartheid regime in South Africa during the 1980s.  It also lends vigour and vitality to international civil campaigns of solidarity with the Palestinian people – like the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Ultimately, this development will have a buoyant and galvanising effect on the growing demand internationally, particularly across the Global South, for a renewed momentum towards a definitive and lasting solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict – namely the two-state solution. Liberation once again warmly applauds the government of the Republic of South Africa for the principled stance and leadership by example it has shown in bringing and finely articulating its case against Israel before the ICJ…  It stands as testament to the enduring vision of President Nelson Mandela, a decade on from his passing.

The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.

Nelson Mandela

Liberation reiterates its longstanding position that without genuine and concrete steps being taken to comprehensively resolve the Palestinian issue, to realise the legitimate and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and to bring about a secure statehood, there can be no hope for peace and stability to prevail there or in the wider region.  We therefore add our voice to the chorus now resounding for an immediate ceasefire and an end once and for all to the criminal massacre being perpetrated by the state of Israel against the Palestinian people, pursuant to renewed efforts towards the reaching of a binding and comprehensive political settlement of the Palestinian issue based upon the implementation of the various relevant UN resolutions – as opposed to their renegotiation – and international law.  This would see an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and the besiegement of Gaza; the establishing of a fully independent and sovereign Palestinian state within the borders as they stood on 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital; the right of return for all Palestinian refugees in accordance with UN Resolution 194; as well as the release of all Palestinian political prisoners from Israeli detention.

Friday 26 January, 2024

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