ICJ ruling on plausible genocide obligates states to individually and collectively (UNGA) end complicity and impose targeted sanctions on Israel

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11 March 2024 – Following the binding ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 26 January 2024 confirming the plausibility of Israel’s genocide against 2.3 million Palestinians in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip and ordering it to stop and prevent all genocidal acts: 

  • The US, Germany, UK and other Western powers have continued to arm, fund and otherwise enable Israel’s genocide (including another US veto), even defunding UNRWA to further Israel’s starvation war, an act condemned by genocide experts as “direct involvement in the intensification of genocidal acts against the Palestinian people.” 
  • UN human rights experts have called for an “immediate” arms embargo on Israel and for “sanctions on trade, finance, travel, technology or cooperation.”
  • Governments and corporations have started to review and stop arms transfers and military relations with Israel and its complicit military industry, but the UNGA is called upon to reflect the growing global consensus and bypass the US-led UNSC paralysis.
  • Despite the domination of Israel’s genocide-justifying propaganda in the mainstream US media, the majority of US voters, like most of humanity, support halting or conditioning military funding and arms shipments to Israel. 

In both the prolonged occupation case and the genocide case against Israel at the ICJ, a large number of states, regional organizations, human rights lawyers, and international law experts have condemned Israel’s system of apartheid against Palestinians and its genocidal war. They’ve affirmed that Israel’s “total impunity,” as the UN Secretary-General has described it, presents a threat not just to Palestinians but also to the international legal system and world peace.

Israeli forces have committed several massacres against starving Palestinians seeking the very limited food aid arriving, while continuing its wanton bombing campaign, killing over 3,500 Palestinians since the ICJ order (with the total since October 2023 exceeding 31 thousand, mostly children and women). 

On 21 February, following a repeated call by the UN inter-agency committee for a ceasefire, UNRWA chief Phillip Lazzarini warned again: “there is no safe place in gaza; Diseases are rampant; Famine is looming; Water is at a trickle; Food production has come to a halt; Hospitals have turned into battlefields; One million children face daily traumas.” That same day, the US, again, vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

The Genocide Convention, according to international law experts, obligates states “to refrain from being complicit through aid or assistance … the moment the state becomes aware of the existence of a serious risk that genocide will be committed.” Failing to prevent genocide, let alone providing aid or assistance to Israel while plausibly perpetrating it, makes states complicit. 

Global South states have largely supported South Africa’s ICJ genocide case against Israel, with growing support for imposing lawful sanctions against it. The ICJ ruling as well as mass solidarity mobilizations, peaceful disruptions and other creative pressure against Israel’s live-streamed genocide have prodded states, corporations and institutions worldwide to take action:

  • Bolivia fully suspended diplomatic relations with Israel, while Chile, Colombia, Chad, Honduras, Turkey, and Jordan downgraded relations with it.
  • The African Union effectively suspended Israel’s observer status. 
  • Norway’s pension fund, the world’s largest, fully divested from Israel Bonds (almost $500m).
  • On February 29th, Colombian President Gustavo Petro announced the full suspension of arms purchases from Israel. 
  • On February 12th, a Dutch court ordered the government to suspend the export of F-35 fighter-jet parts to Israel. 
  • Belgium’s regional government of Wallonia suspended two arms export licenses to Israel. 
  • On February 29th, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, the main ruling party in Spain, voted in parliament, along with other parties, in favor of an immediate suspension of Spain’s arms trade with Israel. 
  • Deputy PMs of Belgium and Spain called for “suspending the EU Association Treaty with Israel, imposing a general arms embargo, or even imposing sanctions under the EU's global human rights sanctions regime” to compel Israel to accept a ceasefire in Gaza.
  • Malaysia has prevented Israeli ships and ships headed to Israel from using its ports.
  • On March 1st, Nicaragua filed a case against Germany at the ICJ under the Genocide Convention accusing it of “facilitating Israel’s genocide” against Palestinians and of complicity in its other crimes, including apartheid.
  • Also on March 1st, over 200 politicians and MPs from over 12 countries issued a statement committing to “immediate and coordinated action” in their parliaments to stop their countries from arming Israel.
  • EU leader Josep Borrell, having previously made statements that greenlighted Israel’s genocide, recently called on allies of Israel, particularly the US,  to stop arming it. 
  • The West Asia Football Association called on FIFA to suspend Israel’s membership. 

Some large corporations are also acting to circumvent being criminally liable for complicity in genocide. On February 5th,  Itochu Aviation, a division of Japan’s Itochu Corporation, and Nippon Aircraft Supply Co. ended their respective partnerships with Elbit Systems, Israel’s main arms manufacturer, explicitly citing the ICJ ruling. 

States and corporations aside, senior government officials may also be held criminally responsible for their complicity in genocide following the ICJ ruling, according to international law experts.  

The World Court’s finding of plausible genocide puts states, institutions, corporations and officials on urgent notice: stop complicity in Israel’s Gaza genocide or be held criminally liable. Until Israel ends its genocide and fully complies with its obligations under international law, States must unilaterally, regionally, and collectively at the UNGA within the framework of reconvening the 10th UNGA Emergency Session under the Uniting for Peace procedure:  

  1. Impose lawful and proportionate economic sanctions and other countermeasures on Israel, particularly a two-way military embargo; canceling free-trade, cooperation agreements and energy deals; banning goods from companies implicated in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise; etc., and pass a UNGA resolution to this effect. 
  1. Take immediate action to expel Israel from international fora including the UNGA (and other UN bodies such as ECOSOC), International Olympic Committee, FIFA, and others, as apartheid South Africa was. 
  1. States Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) must pressure the Prosecutor to swiftly advance investigation into all war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide carried out by Israeli perpetrators against the Palestinian people, and to immediately issue arrest warrants for the case files before the Court since 2014. 
  1. Arrest and prosecute, including by applying Universal Jurisdiction, Israeli officials who have carried out genocidal acts against Palestinians, incited genocide, or supported it.
  1. Ensure that corporate entities and institutions domiciled in their territory or under their jurisdiction cease and desist from supporting Israel’s genocide and other crimes under international law, including apartheid, and hold them accountable for any complicity. 
  1. Join the large and increasing number of states in the Global South supporting South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the ICJ.