On January 26, the International Court of Justice rejected the Israeli request to dismiss the genocide charge and confirmed its jurisdiction to try the case. Furthermore, it decided on six provisional measures, part of which appeared in South Africa’s petition.
By Fabio Bosco
The Court could not avoid the brutal reality of an ongoing genocide televised live and in color around the world: 25,700 Palestinians killed, more than 63,000 injured, 360,000 homes destroyed in whole or in part, 1.7 million displaced people, 93% of the population starving; in addition to genocidal statements by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and then Energy and Infrastructure Minister Israel Katz.
Considering these facts, the Court understood that South Africa’s petition regarding the genocidal intentions of the State of Israel is plausible prima facie and deserves to be considered. It immediately decided on six emergency measures that oblige Israel to detail within 30 days the actions taken to prevent genocide, to punish incitement to genocide, and to guarantee the entry of humanitarian aid. Furthermore, it also decided to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Israelis imprisoned in Gaza.
Zionists in a Quagmire
Far-right Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the Court’s decision was outrageous and that the war, an euphemism for the genocide in Gaza, continues. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant did not strive for originality and denounced the Court’s decision as anti-Semitic.
The Zionist minister Itamar Ben Gvir stood for ignoring the Court’s decision and led, two days later in Jerusalem, a Conference for the Return to Gaza in which the “voluntary” transfer of Palestinians was endorsed (that is, the expulsion of Palestinians) as well as the construction of 26 new Jewish settlements. This conference was attended by hundreds of Zionist settlers, in addition to 27 Israeli parliamentarians, 12 of which are ministers in Netanyahu’s far-right government.
On the other hand, the families of Israelis imprisoned in Gaza joined minority pacifist sectors and demonstrated on January 27 in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Caesarea, Kefar Sava, Rehovot and Beersheba. Protesters raised the slogan: “Elections Now” and chanted for the immediate dismissal of Netanyahu, as well as the immediate release of Israelis detainees in Gaza, even if it was through meeting Hamas demands, such as the release of Palestinian political prisoners and an end to military intervention in Gaza. Some protesters carried signs with content similar to that of anti-Zionist Jewish protesters around the world, such as: “Never Again Is Never Again For Anyone” in reference to the Holocaust and the genocide in Gaza. Netanyahu stated that these demonstrations by family members of Israelis detained in Gaza are “useless and contributing to the demands of Hamas.”
Biden Races Against Time
The U.S. State Department said the ICJ’s ruling is “consistent with our view that Israel has the right to take action to ensure the terrorist attacks of Oct. 7 cannot be repeated, in accordance with international law..”
Their statement continues: “We continue to believe that allegations of genocide are unfounded, and note the court did not make a finding about genocide or call for a cease-fire in its ruling and that it called for the unconditional, immediate release of all hostages being held by Hamas.”
However, the U.N. Security Council meets this January 31 following a request from Algeria that it may present a motion for an immediate ceasefire, and Israel has to present a report on the anti-genocidal actions taken under penalty of new provisional measures by February 26th.
Furthermore, the primaries for the U.S. elections have already started and several of President Joe Biden’s campaign activities have faced protests for the ceasefire. In Michigan, a “swing” state, the loss of votes from the Arab-American community might prove fatal for Biden.
Biden’s proposal boils down to a reissue of the 1993 Oslo accords, with short-term measures and an illusory promise of a Palestinian mini-state. Columnist Thomas Friedman summarized the proposal this way:
“To that end, the U.S. is working on a two-stage process to present this opportunity to Israel, several officials explained to me.
The first stage would be a short-term cease-fire in Gaza that would bring about a return of all the 100-plus Israeli hostages held by Hamas in return for Hamas securing Palestinian prisoners in Israel while allowing for the emergence of local Palestinians to assume administrative governing functions there. The hope, U.S. officials say, is that as Israeli troops moved out — with the promise of eventual Palestinian control — some kind of an Arab multinational force would be prepared to move in. A lot would depend, though, on the state of Hamas’s military forces and whether Hamas’s surviving leaders and maybe some senior fighters would be allowed to go to a third country, one senior U.S. official told me.
In the second stage, Palestinians, through the Palestine Liberation Organization, would go through their own process of naming a transitional governing authority — before they hold elections for a permanent one — and the West and Arab states would help this authority build proper institutions, including a security force for Gaza and the West Bank. At the same time, Saudi Arabia would begin a process of normalization of relations with Israel that would culminate when a two-state solution was achieved.”
The Biden government’s concern is to save Israel from its deep moral, political, social and economic crisis, and also to guarantee its re-election in November. But he is racing against time, against Netanyahu who needs military aggression to remain in power, and against the Palestinian resistance.
Palestinian Resistance Facing a New Oslo
While the Palestinian population expressed deep disappointment with the ICJ’s decision not to declare an immediate ceasefire, Hamas, which has become the main force of the Palestinian resistance, welcomed its decision:
“Hamas welcomes the decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which indicted the occupying state on charges of genocide, and demands that the occupying army protect civilians, lift the siege imposed on our people in the Gaza Strip, and respect its duties as an occupying force within the framework of international law and international humanitarian law. This decision means to stop all forms of aggression against our Palestinian people in Gaza. Hamas also calls on the international community to oblige Israel to implement the court’s decisions and stop the ongoing crime of genocide against the Palestinians.”
The acceptance to probe the genocide accusation by the ICJ is positive as it reinforces Israel’s international isolation. But the provisional measures decided on are clearly insufficient to stop the ongoing genocide. And one of them, the unconditional release of Israeli detainees, without any exchange for Palestinian prisoners, only favors Israel and its genocidal policies. This only demonstrates that the ICJ, like the U.N., are not forums that will bring justice to the Palestinian people. Justice will be won by the struggle of the Palestinian people, and their allies in the Arab and international working class.
But the new challenge that the Palestinian resistance will face could come at any time. Of course, the Palestinian population will celebrate any kind of ceasefire that stops the genocide. But a new Oslo agreement will maintain the process of ethnic cleansing and apartheid against the Palestinians, and therefore should not be accepted.
In its 1993 version, the PLO agreed to recognize the racist State of Israel, without the formation of the Palestinian State. Hamas does not accept recognizing the Zionist State but has historically defended a long-term truce (hudna in Arabic) that implies giving up fighting the racist State. Political analyst Azzam Tamimi and author of the book “Hamas: a History from Within” explains this position:
“The idea of a long-term hudna (truce) between Israel and the Palestinians originated in the early 1990s. It was referenced in February 1994 by Musa Abu Marzuq, who then headed the Hamas political bureau, in a statement published by the Amman weekly Al-Sabeel, the organ of the Jordanian Islamic movement.
A similar reference to this concept inside Palestine was made around the same time by Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin from his prison cell. He proposed a hudna as an interim solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Hamas repeated the offer on several occasions thereafter, but it failed to interest the Israelis. In recent days, the notion of a hudna has again been referenced by various Hamas spokespersons.
A hudna is recognized in Islamic jurisprudence as a legitimate and binding contract whose objective is to cease fighting with the enemy for an agreed period of time. It may be short or long, depending on mutual needs and interests.
Such a treaty would be different from the Oslo Peace Accords, under which the Palestine Liberation Organisation recognised the state of Israel and its right to exist.
The difference is that under a hudna, the issue of recognition would not come up, because Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel and most western powers, has no authority to renounce the rights of Palestinians to return to the lands and homes from which they were forced out in 1948 or any time thereafter.
Under the present circumstances, the best it could do is regain some of the land lost and secure the release of prisoners, in exchange for a cessation of hostilities. This would be somewhat similar to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) agreeing to negotiate an end to the conflict in Northern Ireland without recognising British sovereignty over the territory.”
“Once a hudna is concluded, it is considered sacred, and fulfilling its obligations becomes a religious duty. As long as the other side observes it, the Muslim side cannot breach it, for doing so is considered a grave sin. As with other international treaties, a hudna is renewable upon the expiry of its term by mutual agreement.
The long-term hudna that has previously been proposed by Hamas would stipulate an Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders, meaning a return of all the land occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War, including East Jerusalem. This would entail the removal of all Jewish settlers from these areas. In addition, Israel would have to release all Palestinian prisoners.
In my opinion, in the current situation it is highly unlikely that Hamas would settle for anything less in exchange for a long-term truce that could last for a quarter of a century or longer.”
The State of Israel lives off permanent war against the Arabs. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that they will accept a long-term truce or comply with it if signed. If the advancement of the Palestinian struggle forces the State of Israel and its imperialist sponsors to accept a long-term truce, this will pose contradictions for Hamas, which will change its status as a member of the Palestinian resistance to that of guardian of the truce signed with its enemies.
It is the right of the Palestinian people to sign a truce or other type of agreement with the Zionist enemy. But in doing so, it is important to be clear about its meaning and the signing organizations have an obligation to tell the truth to the Palestinian people, that is, that no agreement with the Zionists is trustworthy due to the racist and exclusionary nature of this imperialist enclave in Arab lands. Therefore, the Palestinians and their Arab allies must always be prepared to fight as long as the State of Israel exists. To have peace, it is necessary to put an end to the racist State and build a free Palestine, from the river to the sea.