ICJ ruling falls flat as Israel, the US, and their allies boldly participate directly in genocide
29 January 2024
International Court of Justice (ICJ)
The ICJ order of January 26th to Israel to prevent acts of genocide stopped short of actually declaring genocide and did not order a ceasefire. This is in keeping with previous provisional measures on previous genocide cases in other parts. The Genocide Convention technically doesn’t talk about ceasefires but acts of genocide. However, a full 100% of all Israeli actions in Gaza are acts of genocide. There is no war as such. It is a serious propaganda defeat for Israel but that's as far as it goes. There is no mechanism for stopping the Zionists, who have defied the ICJ in the past, and the ruling is roughly in line with the US policy of calling for restraint while allowing Israel to carry on with systematic murder of the civilian population in Gaza. As with US statements in the past, any court sanctions are in the future, when Israel is asked to report back.
In any case, the court has no enforcement powers. On the basis of the ruling some attempt may be made to put a resolution to the UN Security Council, where the US could again veto action against Israel, and perhaps one to the General Assembly, where the US will bully and bribe in further protection of the Zionists.
As it is, it became clear right away that the US and its allies would disregard the ruling. The court had scored a major propaganda blow against Israel and the US and the ruling could be used to build resistance movements and create difficulties in national courts, but it marks a dead end for the reformist forces hoping for a legal mechanism that would bring the slaughter to an end.
In any case Israel and the West staged an immediate counterattack. Israel announced the involvement of a dozen members of the UNWRA relief agency, delivering aid to Gaza, had worked with Hamas. They announced they would permanently ban the agency in all of the occupied territories. The US and all of their lackeys immediately announced the suspension of aid. Australia, Canada, Italy and the United States said they would halt funding to the agency. Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom then also joined the list.
The greatest significance of the Western move, obviously prepared days in advance, is that it occurs in the aftermath of a court ruling marking obstruction of humanitarian supplies as a genocidal act. The West responds by blocking aid, going beyond facilitation of genocide to direct participation. It has been pointed out, even amongst bourgeois commentators that this act is in direct contravention of the ICJ ruling and sees those powers participating directly in the starvation of the Palestinian population i.e. in the acts of genocide the ICJ called for an end to.
Israel has not released any evidence, but has indicated that it is founded on interrogation (that is, torture). It is one of a series of fantastical allegations that have been made throughout the offensive. The aim is not to be believed. With the aid of the Western media it serves to distract from their own atrocities and if proven to be false, will be met with a shrug of the shoulders.
We should also note that the West does not find allegations of genocide convincing despite the deaths of over 10,000 children, summary executions of unarmed civilians, and daily atrocities on TV, but a simple report by Shin Bet is enough to bring down an illegal collective punishment on a starving population.
Revolutionary socialists say the role of courts, Parliament and other state bodies is to appear to stand above class struggle. In reality they are all servants of capital.
The ICJ created the appearance of due process and the rule of law, but in reality did little to preserve the lives if the Palestinians. What is really significant is the decision of the US and its supporters to immediately discard the legal fig leaf.
What does this mean?
It means that there is no plan B. The imperialists will go ahead with genocide in Gaza and war with Yemen. They will back an Israeli war in Lebanon and are likely to go forward to war with Iran. A war centred on Ukraine will widen into a broader confrontation between NATO and Russia. The drive towards conscription, a war economy and suppression of workers’ rights will accelerate with the aim being global war to reassert Western supremacy.
In these circumstances we need to go beyond the structures of Palestine Solidarity. We need to build a movement against imperialism and global war. We are politically on the back foot in the face of a general offensive, but by asserting the need for anti-imperialist politics and appealing to the working class about the impact on their own rights we can turn the tide of battle.