23 February 2024

Taking War to Court

A surprise attack launched by Hamas on October 7 ignited yet another period of violence in Israel and Gaza. In response, Israel launched an unprecedented invasion of the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the deaths of over 25,000 Gazans, most of them civilians. While the war does not seem to come close to an end, Israel has meanwhile encountered a different kind of problem; following the October 7 attack, Israel captured hundreds of Hamas fighters. Immediately following the start of the war, voices in Israel urged the government to launch criminal prosecutions of these attackers, with some arguing that Israel should impose the death penalty on the perpetrators.

Continue reading >>
0
21 February 2024

The Legal Limits of Supporting Israel

On January 26, 2024, the International Court of Justice (‘ICJ’ or ‘the Court’) issued its provisional measures order on the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel). This article provides an overview of the legal implications of the ICJ’s order for third-party states providing political, financial, or military support to Israel, including the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. I argue that the plausibility of genocide establishes the necessary evidentiary threshold to trigger state responsibility for third-party states on the international level as well as to initiate domestic legal proceedings.

Continue reading >>
14 February 2024

Dutch Court Halts F-35 Aircraft Deliveries for Israel

In a landmark decision, the Hague Court of Appeal ordered the Dutch government on 12 February 2024 to stop supplying Israel with F-35 fighter jet parts because there was a “clear risk” that serious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) would be committed with the aircraft in Gaza. In their unanimous decision, the three judges relied on the European Union (EU) Common Position on Arms Exports and the Arms Trade Treaty as they apply to Dutch law, which outline criteria against which military exports must be assessed to determine the risk of abuse. The judgment made important findings on the nature of these risk assessments, which may have significant implications in future litigation.

Continue reading >>
0
11 February 2024

Why Nicaragua’s Article 62 Intervention in South Africa v. Israel is Potentially Unhelpful

On 23 January 2024, Nicaragua applied for permission to intervene in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel). Nicaragua's application will drag proceedings out one way or another. Potentially it means the Court must hear and decide upon a third version of events, clouding South Africa’s original case. If this case is really about addressing what the Court described as a ‘human tragedy’ in Gaza and not just about political point-scoring, Nicaragua, by trying to help, may just have made things worse.

Continue reading >>
0
09 February 2024

UNRWA as Sui Generis

Since UNRWA preemptively disclosed Israel’s claim to have evidence that 12 UNRWA employees participated in the 7 October 2023 attacks, at least 16 donor states and the European Union, which collectively supply the vast majority of the Agency’s budget, have suspended their contributions. This poses an existential threat to UNRWA, the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in Gaza. This post explains how the current episode displays the unsatisfactory sui generis status of UNRWA’s Palestinian staff, and forms part of an ongoing and largely successful attempt to position UNRWA as a compromised, sui generis UN organisation which constitutes an outlier in the law and practice of the United Nations.

Continue reading >>
31 January 2024

South Africa v Israel: A Solomonic Decision as “Constructive Ambiguity”

In its wise Order of 26 January 2024, the ICJ managed to make a virtue out of a necessity: Israel was not prohibited from continuing its combat operations but was reminded of its strict compliance with international humanitarian law and its obligation to avoid genocide. At the same time, the ICJ reiterated the requirement to respect the most fundamental rights and the core of humanitarian law to all warring factions. Despite still essentially being a court for inter-state disputes – it put the individual, the human being, at the centre. Henceforth, the ICJ’s order of provisional measures is a Solomonic decision at its best and a further step towards the “humanization of international law”.

Continue reading >>
0
30 January 2024
,

Intervention auf Irrwegen

Am 29.12.2023 reichte Südafrika Klage vor dem Internationalen Gerichtshof (IGH) gegen Israel wegen Verstößen gegen die Völkermordkonvention im Gazastreifen ein. Zusätzlich zum Hauptsacheantrag begehrte Südafrika im einstweiligen Rechtsschutz den Erlass von vorsorglichen Maßnahmen („Provisional Measures“), auf die sich auch die zweitägige Anhörung der Parteien bezog. Am zweiten Tag der Anhörungen verkündete Deutschland, zugunsten Israels zu intervenieren, mit der Begründung, der Vorwurf des Völkermords entbehre jeder Grundlage. Neben einer Zusammenfassung der Parteivorträge und der Eilrechtsschutzentscheidung des IGH vom 26.1.2024 beleuchtet der Beitrag die deutsche Rolle im Hauptsacheverfahren. Vor dem Hintergrund der aktuellen Entscheidung wie auch der Pluralität deutscher historischer Verantwortung droht die geplante Intervention der Glaubwürdigkeit Deutschlands im multilateralen System weiter zu schaden und die Universalität des Völkerrechts auszuhöhlen.

Continue reading >>
29 January 2024

Provisional Measures as Tools of American Empire

One could feel the weight of history on her shoulders, as Judge Joan Donoghue, President of the International Court of Justice, read the provisional measures order in South Africa v Israel. Her hand reached several times for the glass of water. Carefully, and with an occasional sip of water, she walked her viewers on the ICJ’s streaming service from one provisional measure to the next. By first zeroing in on the role of the American judge, this post describes how the provisional measures decided upon, ultimately correspond to a larger project of global American governance. As I will argue the US Executive Branch is likely to take a lead role in interpreting the provisional measures, further cementing their place as tools of empire.

Continue reading >>
0
25 January 2024

Measuring with Double Legal Standards

Less than two hours after Israel had closed its pleadings, the German Government released a press statement, announcing its intent to intervene as a third party under Article 63 of the Statute of the ICJ (ICJ Statute). Therefore, it can be assumed that Germany did not take sufficient time to conduct a comprehensive assessment prior to its decision. At all costs, it sought to be perceived as being on Israel’s side. Germany’s decision may not appear startling given that it had previously intervened in both genocide proceedings against Russia (Ukraine v Russia case) and Myanmar (Rohingya case). However, in the latter case, Germany joined Gambia in upholding a purposive construction of Article II Genocide Convention, which would seem to present a serious obstacle to support Israel. Thus, this contribution investigates whether Germany, in its intervention in the "Genocide in the Gaza Strip case", would be able to abandon its previous submissions in the Rohingya case and instead adopt a more restrictive construction of the Article II Genocide Convention.

Continue reading >>

Counter-Genocidal Governance

The International Court of Justice’s decision regarding South Africa’s request for provisional measures in its genocide case against Israel is expected tomorrow. Whatever the Court decides, it is worthwhile noting that the impact of the process is already evident. And any provisional measures that may be given, will shape a years-long and likely tense dialog between Israel and the Court, as well as third countries. Everything that will happen for the duration of the proceedings, over the next two or three years at least, will continue to build evidence until, finally, the owl of Minerva will spread its wings. My purpose in this post is to provide some provisional reflections on how that may work. In doing so, I will expand a bit on a notion I’ve tried to develop in a previous post, that of counter-genocidal governance.

Continue reading >>
0
24 January 2024

Free Speech in the Shadow of the Israel-Gaza War

Since Hamas’ attack on October 7, and the war between Israel and Gaza that ensued, constraints on speech have become more widespread in Israel, both on the formal and informal level. Restrictions on anti-war demonstrations, police violence toward protestors, investigations and indictments for “incitement to terrorism” or “identifying with a terrorist organization” and other speech-restricting measures, have become the norm. At the much less discussed, informal level, Israeli media has largely embraced a non-critical position, failing to provide audiences with information as to the situation in Gaza, and providing almost all the analysis from an internal Israeli perspective. While this cannot be construed as a formal restriction on speech, it nevertheless speaks to the informal mechanisms that render criticism unpalatable during times of war.

Continue reading >>
0
12 January 2024

Why Germany Should Join Sides with Israel before the ICJ in its Defense against South Africa’s Accusation of Genocide

Yesterday and today, the ICJ heard an application for provisional measures brought by South Africa, in which Israel is accused of the particularly serious crime of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza due to its reactions to the Hamas attacks of 7 October 2023. This participation in the proceedings, as well as other reasons to be explained below, speak in favor of also declaring an intervention in the proceedings between South Africa and Israel – in this case, however, with the aim of supporting Israel as defendant and countering the South African argumentation.

Continue reading >>
11 January 2024

Warum Deutschland vor dem IGH dem von Südafrika gegen Israel erhobenen Vorwurf des Völkermords entgegentreten sollte

Heute und morgen verhandelt der IGH im Verfahren des einstweiligen Rechtsschutzes über eine Klage Südafrikas, in der gegen Israel aufgrund seiner Reaktionen auf die Anschläge der Hamas vom 7. Oktober 2023 der besonders schwere Vorwurf des Völkermords an Palästinenserinnen und Palästinensern erhoben wird. Die prozessuale Beteiligung der Bundesregierung an zwei weiteren Verfahren wegen Völkermords sowie weitere, nachfolgend zu erläuternde Gründe sprechen dafür, für das Hauptsacheverfahren zwischen Südafrika und Israel ebenfalls eine Nebenintervention zu erklären – hier allerdings mit dem Ziel, Israel beizustehen und der südafrikanischen Argumentation entgegenzutreten.

Continue reading >>
09 January 2024

Did the Israeli Supreme Court Kill the Constitutional Coup?

On January 1, 2024, the Israeli Supreme Court struck down a constitutional amendment prohibiting judicial review of actions of the government, the prime minister, or any minister based on the “reasonableness” doctrine. The judgment illustrates how societal and judicial vigilance in recognizing “early warning” signals of potential “constitutional capture” may play a significant role in battling such processes. However, notwithstanding this judgment and the halting of the legislative process, the threat of democratic backsliding in Israel persists. The ongoing war has, in fact, paved the way for further anti-democratic measures, some of which were upheld by the very same Court that struck down the anti-reasonableness amendment.

Continue reading >>
0
08 January 2024

The Body of the Judge and the Suffering of the Collective

The widespread prediction among experts right now is that Israel’s chances of prevailing at the ICJ in its response to South Africa’s genocide application are slim. Let’s assume, for a moment, that the prediction is accurate. As has been reported, Israeli authorities, too, have acknowledged that there’s a real risk of an ICJ decision against Israel. What does this mean for Israel’s legal strategy? When a party is preparing to lose in a proceeding, one relevant question is what the minority opinion will look like. Aharon Barak’s appointment as an ad-hoc judge for the ICJ proceedings may reveal some of the outlines Israel is preparing for this minority opinion: even if we lose, we may still try to convince the world that the issue at hand is none other than the memory of the Holocaust. But this is a morally and politically risky choice to make.

Continue reading >>
04 December 2023

Perils and Pitfalls of Israel´s New ´War on Terror´

Over the last weeks, we were forced to realize that the way our – i.e. German – public opinion (and politicians) react to the ruthless assault of Hamas on 7 October differs markedly from the intuitions of the broad public in the Islamic world (and large parts of the ´Global South´ in general). Whereas our media (and speeches of politicians) are full of references to Israel´s right to self-defence, the sentiments voiced on the streets in the Middle East (and publicly stated by politicians such as Turkish President Erdogan) go in the opposite direction, stress the legitimate cause of the Palestinians and term the Hamas as a movement of national liberation. Clearly there is a legitimate cause in the fight of Palestinians against endless occupation. But do ends really justify means, at all price, as the praise for Hamas seems to suggest? A closer look to the normative underpinnings of current international law confirms the intuition that this is more than doubtful, as a thorough analysis of the (intensely debated) provisions on the status of movements of national liberation in IHL tells us.

Continue reading >>
28 November 2023

‘Steadfast and Unreserved’

On 24 November 2023, the Barcelona City Council passed a resolution, suspending diplomatic ties with Israel, until a permanent ceasefire is established. While this may not reflect the stance of the Spanish government, it has nevertheless condemned ‘the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians’. As more EU States (such as Belgium, France, and Ireland) have raised their concerns regarding Israel’s continuous military operations in Gaza, Germany has remained steadfast in its ‘unwavering’ and ‘unreserved’ support for Israel. To the extent that Israel has failed to comply with international humanitarian law (IHL), Germany’s position might amount to a breach of its obligation under common Article 1 (CA1) of the 1949 Geneva Conventions (GC) to ‘ensure respect’ for IHL. While this obligation is incumbent on all States parties to the GC, this post focuses on Germany due to its particularly affirmative position with respect to Israel’s conduct.

Continue reading >>
09 November 2023

How the War in Gaza May Upend Israel’s Constitutional Limbo

The war in Gaza serves, this blog post argues, as the final nail in the coffin of Netanyahu's judicial overhaul. The Israeli political climate, relentless opposition and the political fallout after Hamas' surprise attack on Israel and the current war thwarted the judicial overhaul. However, populism is far from overcome. Therefore, the current failed judicial overhaul remains a warning sign for the democracy-seeking public in Israel and should raise demand for constitutional entrenchment of the democratic values of the Israeli state. As the judicial overhaul of 2023 has shown us – democracy is not safe if it hangs by the thread of a simple majority in parliament.

Continue reading >>
0