Thank you for contacting me about the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The Government wants to see an end to the fighting in Gaza as soon as possible and is calling for an immediate pause to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire, without a return to destruction, fighting and loss of life.
I agree with the UK Government that South Africa’s case at the ICJ is not helping to achieve the goal of a sustainable ceasefire. Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas in line with international humanitarian law (IHL) as the UK Government has made clear from the outset. I share the Government’s view that Israel’s actions in Gaza cannot be described as genocide, and believe South Africa’s decision to bring the case was wrong and provocative.
The International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) provisional ruling on South Africa’s controversial charge of ‘genocide’ against Israel was significant. This is because the court rejected South Africa’s demand for an immediate ceasefire, upholding Israel’s right to self-defence against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in line with international law. The additional provisional measures that it imposed ensure the prevention of genocide, facilitation of humanitarian aid and preservation of evidence - all of which conform to Israel's standing commitments. It has also ruled that Hamas must oblige by the “immediate and unconditional” release of all the hostages held illegally in its captivity.
Responding to the ICJ’s ruling, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that “Israel’s commitment to international law is unwavering”, that Israel would continue to facilitate humanitarian aid, and that Israel was targeting Hamas and not Palestinians civilians.
The conclusions of the ICJ in its provisional ruling do not prejudge in any way the claims brought by South Africa, which remain wholly unproven, which is why it is wrong to misinterpret the provisional ruling as finding Israel guilty of genocide.
The case is in fact political, with South Africa's foreign minister Naledi Pandor having been criticised for holding a phone call with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh just 10 days after the Palestinian terror group launched its deadly attack on Israel.
South Africa’s case relies on misrepresentations for most of its arguments, citing Hamas-run Gaza health ministry figures, discounting 10,000+ trucks of humanitarian aid for its allegations of a blockade, and falsely claiming that Israel is forcibly moving Palestinians when IDF humanitarian corridors are in-reality designed to minimise civilian casualties.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was absolutely right when he said that the case is “completely unjustified and wrong”, “does not serve the cause of peace”, and that “the UK Government stands by Israel’s clear right to defend itself within the framework of international law”.
South Africa’s false and offensive application is political in nature, legally tenuous, harmful to the cause of peace and part of a sustained campaign to delegitimise the world’s only Jewish State – the levelling of such offensive allegations against Israel does a moral disservice to what should be the basic tenants of our shared international norms and values.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP