Which countries back South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at ICJ?

Here are countries which welcomed the ICJ case that says Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Palestinians stand next to bodies that were found under the rubble of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday.
Both South Africa and Israel are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention which gives the ICJ the jurisdiction to rule on disputes over the treaty [Fatima Shbair/AP]

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) based in The Hague will hold its first hearing in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel on Thursday, with several countries welcoming the move amid a global chorus for a ceasefire in Gaza.

South Africa filed the lawsuit end of December, accusing Israel of genocide in its war on Gaza and seeking a halt to the brutal military assault that has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, nearly 10,000 of them children.

The 84-page filing by South Africa says Israel violated the 1948 Genocide Convention, drawn up in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust.

Both Israel and South Africa are signatories to the United Nations Genocide Convention, which gives the ICJ – the highest UN legal body – jurisdiction to rule on disputes over the treaty.

All states that signed the convention are obliged to not commit genocide and also to prevent and punish it. The treaty defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

Here’s what we know about the countries backing South Africa in its case against Israel, and the countries that oppose the case at the world court.

Which countries have welcomed South Africa’s ICJ case against Israel?

  • The Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC): The 57-member bloc, which includes Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and Morocco, voiced their support for the case on December 30.
  • Malaysia: In a statement released on January 2, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the South African application. It reiterated a call for an independent Palestinian state “based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital”.
  • Turkey: Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Oncu Keceli posted on X on January 3 welcoming South Africa’s move.
  • Jordan: Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on January 4 that Amman would back South Africa.
  • Bolivia: On Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia dubbed South Africa’s move as historic, becoming the first Latin American country to back the ICJ case against Israel.
  • The Maldives, Namibia and Pakistan: The three countries expressed support for the genocide case filed by South Africa during a UN General Assembly session on Tuesday.
  • Besides countries, many advocacy groups and civil society groups worldwide have also joined South Africa’s call. These include Terreiro Pindorama in Brazil, Asociacion Nacional de Amistad Italia-Cuba in Italy, and Collectif Judeo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine in France, reported independent outlet Common Dreams.

Which countries filed the ICC request earlier?

Bolivia also pointed out it had earlier filed a request to International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan alongside South Africa, Bangladesh, Comoros, and Djibouti to investigate the situation in Palestine. Khan said he received the request on November 30.

The ICC and the ICJ are sometimes conflated with one another. Both the courts are located in The Hague, Netherlands. While the purpose of the ICJ is to resolve conflicts between states, the ICC prosecutes individuals for committing crimes, according to the University of Melbourne’s Pursuit platform. While states cannot be sued at the ICC, the prosecutor can open an investigation where crimes, including genocide, were likely committed.

Who is not backing South Africa’s ICJ case?

The United States has voiced its opposition to the genocide case. National security spokesperson John Kirby called South Africa’s submission “meritless, counterproductive, and completely without any basis” during a White House press briefing on January 3.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday that “there is nothing more atrocious and preposterous” than the lawsuit. Herzog also thanked Blinken for Washington’s support of Israel.

Israel’s Western allies, including the European Union, have mostly maintained silence on the ICJ case.

The United Kingdom, which has refused to support the case, has been accused of double standards after it submitted detailed legal documents to the ICJ about a month ago to support claims that Myanmar committed genocide against the Rohingya community.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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