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Unless it stops the Israeli invasion of Rafah, the United States could become a global pariah | Mohamed Bazzi

Unless it stops the Israeli invasion of Rafah, the United States could become a global pariah |  Mohamed Bazzi


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday ordered Israel to end its military attack on the southern Gaza town of Rafah, where around half of Gaza's 2.3 million residents have sought refuge in recent years. month. The ruling is the closest the UN's highest court has ever come to ordering a ceasefire, and it further exposes Israel and its closest supporters, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom, for their contempt for international law and institutions.

For much of the world, Israel is now a pariah state that has repeatedly ignored pressure from international bodies to end its brutal war in Gaza, stop using famine as a weapon of war, and allow more aid. in the besieged territory. On Monday, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a separate tribunal also based in The Hague, announced that he was seeking arrest warrants against senior Hamas and Israeli leaders for crimes of war and crimes against humanity committed during the Hamas attack on October 7. and the subsequent war in Gaza. The prosecutor is seeking arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three senior Hamas leaders.

The leaders of Ireland, Spain and Norway said on Wednesday they would recognize an independent Palestinian state, underscoring frustration in Europe with Netanyahu's right-wing government, which continues to oppose the creation of a Palestinian state and expand settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Joe Biden and his administration should use these international rulings and Israel's growing isolation as leverage to stop U.S. arms shipments to Israel and pressure Netanyahu's government to end its war. Instead, Biden and his top aides have spent months trying to discredit various international courts, and in particular the ICJ case, which South Africa first brought in December and which accused Israel to violate the Genocide Convention.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called South Africa's case baseless, only to see the international court allow the case to move forward and issue an order in late January requiring Israel prevents acts of genocide by its troops and authorizes more humanitarian aid. in Gaza. South African lawyers stressed that Israel had not complied with the court's previous ruling and last week asked the ICJ to impose new emergency measures to stop the Israeli invasion of Rafah.

It could take years before the court decides whether Israel committed genocide, but emergency orders such as the one issued Friday aim to prevent further bloodshed in Gaza while the case moves through the trial process. ICJ. Court orders are binding on its member states, but the ICJ lacks an enforcement mechanism and Israel and its allies have ignored court rulings since January.

The ICJ can refer questions to the UN Security Council, but the Biden administration has already used its veto power three times to shield Israel from ceasefire demands at the Council. In March, the United States finally abstained and allowed the Council to approve a ceasefire resolution. Israel ignored the measure, and Washington went to great lengths to insist that the resolution was not binding, even though Security Council resolutions are supposed to carry the weight of international law. It is very likely that Biden would use the US veto power to protect Israel from additional UN measures aimed at enforcing international court rulings.

Biden has shown no interest in holding Israel accountable for its actions in Gaza or upholding international law, although he promised to place human rights protection at the center of US foreign policy soon after his entry into office. Biden's lofty rhetoric about respecting human rights collapsed with his unconditional support for the Israeli assault on Gaza, which killed an estimated 36,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, triggering famine and displaced more than 75% of the population.

The Biden administration not only faces accusations of hypocrisy for its refusal to support international tribunal rulings on Israel, when it urged US adversaries, particularly Russia and Myanmar , to comply with past decisions of the ICJ. Biden and his top aides also expose the United States and even themselves to potential complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity, given that Washington is Israel's largest arms supplier, providing $3.8 billion in military aid per year. After months of lobbying by Biden, Congress recently approved an additional $26 billion in aid to Israel, including $14 billion in unconditional military assistance.

After announcing on May 8 that his administration had suspended a single arms shipment to Israel, delaying the delivery of 3,500 bombs, Biden reversed course less than a week later and resumed sending many more bombs. weapons than he had retained. On May 14, the administration informed Congress that it had approved new arms shipments to Israel worth more than $1 billion, even as it became clear that Netanyahu was continuing his ground invasion of Rafah, despite months of warnings from Washington. In this latest arms package, the United States plans to provide Israel with $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles and $60 million in mortar shells.

Netanyahu and his government openly defied Biden's red line of invading Rafah and forced more than a million Palestinians driven from their homes in other parts of Gaza by the Israeli army to flee once again. How did Biden react? By withholding a delivery of bombs, then undermining any leverage he had on Netanyahu by ensuring a steady flow of other weapons to Israel.

In fact, with its latest ruling on Friday, the International Court has done more than the US administration to enforce Biden's so-called red line on Rafah. Given his past rejection of the ICJ and other international bodies that have ruled against Israel, Biden is unlikely to stop sending weapons to Israel. The administration has had access to numerous human rights groups and independent observers who have documented Israel's numerous violations of international law, including its use of starvation as a method of warfare and its campaign to block the delivery of aid to Gaza.

Biden and his top aides arguably want to avoid being implicated in supporting genocide, but so far they have shown little willingness to end U.S. aid and force Israel to end the bloodshed in Gaza. Instead, they are willing to risk the United States becoming a pariah.




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