The ICJ Interim Ruling and the Future of Gaza

Whether what good can be seen from this latest development is too early, and we can expect more Trump obnoxious styles of Benjamin Netanyahu to magnify Judge Judy's drama or the Kangaroo Court claims of the ICJ ruling.

08 Feb 2024 08:45am
Palestinian supporters take part in a demonstration during a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on a genocide complaint by South Africa against Israel, in The Hague, on Jan 11, 2024. (Photo by Robin Utrecht / AFP)
Palestinian supporters take part in a demonstration during a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on a genocide complaint by South Africa against Israel, in The Hague, on Jan 11, 2024. (Photo by Robin Utrecht / AFP)

There is more than one way of reading from the interim ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), political or legal. At the same time, it may not satisfy everyone, whether on the Israel or Palestinian side.

We can expect "progress" or butterfly effect upon the big elephant in the room and trigger more pressure for Israel to return to a ceasefire for another round of renegotiation, whether in Qatar or elsewhere.

Whether what good can be seen from this latest development is too early, and we can expect more Trump obnoxious styles of Benjamin Netanyahu to magnify Judge Judy's drama or the Kangaroo Court claims of the ICJ ruling.

Two significant and immediate attention should be focused here for our understanding:

Firstly, the Court recognised the capability of Israel through its military apparatus (the Israel Defence Force) and its operations in Gaza as a threshold criterion of intention through the action of genocide, which can no longer be dismissed, even by the loudest defenders or military providers to Israel.

The political consequences of Israel's rhetoric of peace and self-defence through the irregular killing of civilians under the pretext of combating Hamas can no longer be sustained. Within 30 minutes of the ICJ ruling, the critical Western humanitarian voice has leveraged social media to campaign and pressure the Western government from continuing armed sales and military assistance to Israel.

This is fundamental in using the current legal crusades as a deterrence to warmongers and peace spoilers, including pressuring Israel to go back to a peace deal.

Secondly, predicted Israeli responses to the interim ICJ ruling through Netanyahu's speech are rather well-rehearsed but signalling poor political communication by the leader and a more negative rating of Israel in the present global media.

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Israel's instant state of oblivious and offensive mode of confusing the request of the Court to take full responsibility for preventing genocide and the need to report in the next 30 days is rather damaging, which was not accepted by public opinion in Israel.

This increased growing Israeli civilian pressures for Netanyahu's decades of failed leadership and better progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Israel's instant delusional court order to prevent genocide with "sacred commitment" to international law of Israeli rights of self-defence is somewhat distorted and unsustainable media propaganda narratives.

Whether Israel will comply with the ICJ request, we can agree that Israel is also a party of Geneva Convention and interesting to see the inherent limits of Israeli political and legal illogical fallacy to remain consistent with international law responsibility and the present irony of Israeli unspeakable atrocity in Gaza with the foundation of genocide maxims that the modern creation of Israeli state is to prevent another episode of ethnic cleansing and remind the world leaders with duty to prevent another Holocaust remnants from resurfaced in Gaza by respecting international law and rules of justice.

The most powerful countries in the world have more moral and political duty to convince the world that Israel must and will comply with the ICJ interim ruling and prevent another analogy of the Jewish Holocaust from reigniting in our modern time in Gaza.

In theory, the end of the war or crisis in Gaza is somewhat illusive. But what Prime Minister Datuk SerAnwar Ibrahim and many Malaysians who shared the Palestinian cause realistically wanted for immediate ceasefire enforcement and subsequent transition to credible negative peace or, at least, protection of the currently detailed hardships of civilians in Gaza from more harm caused by the IDF.

This also includes legal assurance by the Israeli side not to block aid flows from coming and rebuilding war-torn Gaza.

Recent audio leaks in Qatar and over the actual state of Netanyahu's mind not only confirmed peace spoiler nature of the leader who prevented the Israeli negotiator from finding a practical, durable solution to the ceasefire as mediated by Qatar but also affirmed more cost of violence if Netanyahu remained as the apex leader of Israel.

Legal proceedings should be isolated from the current political momentum of the ceasefire in Gaza, which should cascade into a ripple effect of stopping aid block and the humanitarian needs of Gaza.

The public must be informed that while the work of the world court is not parallel to our greater desire for emotional politics and emphatic needs of the Gaza populace, we must support and encourage more countries and leaders to translate their solidarity for Palestinians into more and various legal crusades against Israeli irrational killing field actions in Gaza under the pretext of fighting Hamas or counterterrorism operation because that is a clear genocide intention where the ICJ has jurisdiction as they are ready to learn more about Israel present and subsequent behaviour.

Apart from South Africa, Indonesia also submitted a separate case, and there is also another particular case of activating the ICC investigation of Israeli atrocity crimes against humanity under the jurisdiction of the Rome Statute.

Multiple translations of Palestinian solidarity into tangible global legal crusades are essential in taming the Israeli leviathan and not crossing the line of human existential rights to coexist and live with dignity.

Suppose the Holocaust is about Israeli rights to exist. Why should the world compensate for the idea of Palestinian rights to co-exist with peace, though complex and require more extended policy discussions about peace, justice and human rights in their bilateral reconciliation struggles?

Measuring a colossal impact immediately after a few days of the ICJ ruling requires cherry-picking ingredients that are deemed as tangible indicators for measuring progress that we all could agree, and that is nearly impossible from policy and crisis analysis.

While many criticised the ICJ ruling as short at enforcing ceasefire demands, we must not be confused that defining genocide actions is the jurisdiction of the Court and works of law. In contrast, ceasefire and peacebuilding are politics and require world leaders who are conscious and go beyond rhetoric.

The recent court ruling should be seen as the first step, not the end, of the long battle for peace and hope in Palestine.

Many sceptics may see the Court as playing safe and not ready to test the water or the current fragile and fictional nature of international order and enforcement of legal ruling since this is not the first legal opinion made by the Court about precarious situations in Gaza.

There are many reasons why the Court is reluctant to enforce a ceasefire, and we will see more diverse legal commentaries from various sides. Chief among them is that the ICJ has the legal wisdom to initiate the early legal phase of whether there is an attribute of genocide, and the Court has jurisdiction.

Israel would listen and comply, determining the next step before proceeding to the actual trial.

The ruling is preemptive and an act of deterrence to work with what available legal means that trigger the progress of peace through justice, though indirect and not explicit.

I think the judge's wisdom is straightforward not to be trapped with the plausible subsequent scenario or probable legal manipulation that may result from immediate ceasefire demands with the genocide defining the scope of jurisdiction in Gaza.

In so doing, we can integrate the ICJ ruling as the genuine enable of peace and give a precious option for conflicting parties to exercise the right and just wisdom to choose the path of preventing genocide.

Defining genocide characteristics and state crimes should not be immediately tight with ceasefire responsibility because the latter is about identifying the responsible actor who can be seen as a credible partner to prevent crimes of genocide. After all, the ICJ's ruling is about defining genocide scope and jurisdiction over the situation in Gaza.

In that case, it will be legally improbable to equate future and subsequent characters of genocide criminals if future trials confirm the criminal nature of the alleged suspects where a state criminal cannot be trusted and expected to be a credible peace actor to initiate a ceasefire.

We must consider the legal reasoning behind the current ICJ ruling instead of merely calling for the ceasefire to be enforced.

Dr Muhammad Danial Azman is a Secretary of the Malaysian International Studies Association (MyISA). Danial is also a Senior Lecturer at the International Institute of Public Policy and Management (INPUMA) Universiti Malaya.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.