Upholding International Justice: The Imperative of Supporting the ICC and the ICJ in the Hamas-Israel War

We affirm our support and respect for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

May 25, 2024
Peace-Palace in Den Haag

The ICC Chief Prosecutor's recent decision to seek arrest warrants for Israel and Hamas prominent leaders, is a crucial step in the investigation into alleged war crimes in the ongoing war in Gaza and Israel. The orders of the ICJ to Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”, are essential to protect the civilian population in Gaza from further unfathomable harm.

Our collective European history, stained by the injustices and inhumanities of antisemitism, racism, colonialism, and the horrors of the Holocaust, bestows upon us a responsibility that must reflect the inviolability of all human life. This responsibility must include respect for and recognition of the right of self-determination and statehood for both Israelis and Palestinians. It must include the support of the many inspiring initiatives in Israel and Palestine that are engaged in the difficult struggle for mutual peace and understanding. This responsibility must include, crucially, unambiguous support for upholding human rights and international law.

Let us be clear: The ICC Chief Prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants does not draw a non-existent moral or political equivalence between the terror organisation Hamas and the democratically elected Israeli government. The requests relate to specific alleged crimes committed by certain individuals, and their specific legal consequences as mandated to the ICC by the Rome Statute. Conflating legal standards with political equivalence dangerously misses the point: no one is above the law.

The ICC and the ICJ are pillars of a rules-based world where human rights are universally respected. They cannot, however, solve underlying political conflicts, nor can they enforce their rulings. Thus, we call upon the EU to put all necessary pressure on the Israeli government for compliance with the ICJ orders and an immediate cessation of the Israeli offensive. The EU must make clear by words and actions that support for the justified wishes and needs of the Israeli population does not equate to accepting the irresponsible actions of the Israeli government, which have now come rightfully under the scrutiny of the ICJ and ICC. Failure to comply with international law must have consequences, and we call upon the EU and its Member States to accept their full responsibility therein.

We must never lose sight of the human suffering that this conflict has inflicted. All hostages must be released unconditionally. Hamas and its ideology should play no role in any post-war arrangements. Only a sustainable political solution that is supported by Israelis and Palestinians, and that leads to the peaceful co-existence of two states will ultimately bring peace. It is high time for us in the EU to find one voice: a voice in defence of international law, a voice of compassion for the suffering on both sides, and a voice that can help build bridges where all bridges seem to have been burned.