ICJ ruling an ‘indirect’ order for Israeli ceasefire in genocidal war, says legal analyst

A protest calling for an immediate Gaza ceasefire in Auckland, New Zealand, last Sunday
A protest calling for an immediate Gaza ceasefire in Auckland, New Zealand, last Sunday. Protesters plan a demonstration today at the Port of Auckland against an Israel-linked ship. Image: David Robie/APR

Asia Pacific Report

Although the International Court of Justice (ICJ) did not directly issue an order for a ceasefire in Gaza, says a leading Israeli Palestinan legal scholar who believes the measures ordered will require require Israel to dramatically reduce its military operations.

If it fails to do so with a ruling that it must report back to the ICJ in one month, it risks reaffirming its status as a “rogue state”.

University of London reader in public law Dr Nimer Sultany said it was a “momentous decision” by the court that was likely to start the “political dynamics to end Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza”.

Legal scholar Dr Nimer Sultany
Legal scholar Dr Nimer Sultany . . . the ICJ ruling “indirectly and effectively call[s] for a drastic scaling-down of the Israeli military campaign.” Image: Wikipedia
“There should not be an Israeli exception to the prevention of genocide,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“Courts will be reluctant to order any kind of measures that will not be enforced because this shows the weakness of the court,” Dr Sultany told Al Jazeera, explaining why the ICJ chose not to issue a direct ceasefire order.

Instead, he said, “they indirectly and effectively call for a drastic scaling-down of the Israeli military campaign.”

Using the example of the court’s order for Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza, Dr Sultany said that there was no way Israel could comply if it continued to prosecute the war in its current form.

‘A rogue state’
“If Israel dismisses this ruling by the ICJ in the same way it dismissed the opening of an investigation by the [International Criminal Court] a couple of years ago and the same way it dismissed the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty [international] reports on apartheid, it will reaffirm its position as a rogue state,” Dr Sultany said.

Dr Sultany is the author of two books about the plight of Palestinians living in Israel.

Reporting from Washington, Al Jazeera’s White House correspondent Patty Culhane said the ICJ ruling was going to give more credibility to those critics, especially those in Biden’s base, who were saying “this has to stop”.

“So what happens next? If it goes to the UN Security Council, we know the US has used its veto power several times to stop any calls for a ceasefire.

“This is a much different thing. They would be seen as hypocrites for voting down a court that calls for additional aid, steps to protect civilians, all things the US says it has been pushing Israel to do.

“They’ve tried to be dismissive of the case, calling it meritless, counterproductive, and completely without any basis in fact.

“But they can’t go after the court, because in past cases, when the court ruled against Russia in Ukraine, the statement from the State Department [has been]: “The court, which plays a vital role in the peaceful settlement of disputes under the UN charter”.

Culhane said that if the issue went to the UN Security Council, “it is going to be a very, very big thing if the Biden administration steps in and protects Israel. That is going to be noticed by his base.”

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